NASA picks three Indian companies for low cost COVID-19 ventilators


Three Indian companies; Alpha Design Technologies, Bharat Forge and Medha Servo Drives, have got licences from NASA to manufacture its indigenously developed ventilators for critical COVID-19 patients, the space organisation said in a statement.


Apart from these Indian firms, 18 other companies, including eight American and three Brazilian, have been selected to manufacture the critical breathing devices.


Called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), the high-pressure ventilator was designed to use one-seventh the parts of a traditional ventilator, relying on parts already available in the supply chains.


It offers a simpler, more affordable option for treating critical patients while freeing up traditional ventilators for those with the most severe Covid-19 symptoms.


Due to its flexible design, it can also be modified for use in field hospitals, NASA said.


The Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which owns the patents and software for VITAL, is offering a free licence for the device. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.


“The VITAL team is very excited to see its technology licenced,” Leon Alkalai, Manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Partnerships, and a member of the VITAL leadership team said in a statement.


“Our hope is to have this technology reach across the world and provide an additional source of solution to deal with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis,” it added.


NASA has so far selected 21 companies — eight US companies and 13 international companies (including three from India) — to make the ventilator developed with inputs from doctors and medical device manufacturers.


“In addition, the setup and operation of the ventilator was quick and user-friendly. The UCLA team commends JPL for actively contributing to the COVID-19 response and successfully addressing one of the key medical needs in the sickest group of patients,” a media statement said.