Publish date: 13 May 2021

Over 1000 breathing aids developed by UCLH and UCL have been sent to India to help with the surge in Covid-19 cases.

The UCL-Ventura CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device – which helps to keep patients off mechanical ventilators and is quick and easy for staff to learn to use – has been included in shipments of devices being sent to the country by the UK.

The device was rapidly developed at the start of the pandemic by a team of UCLH critical care consultants and UCL engineers, in partnership with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains.

CPAP had been used extensively in Italy and China in the first waves, to good effect, and the team worked to remedy a national shortage of CPAP devices by reverse-engineering an off-patent breathing aid which it then improved and manufactured at pace.

Clinical data from UCLH shows that half of patients treated with CPAP do not progress to ventilation, making this device a lifesaver. Clinical practice across the country has now changed with much greater use of CPAP across NHS hospitals and around the world.

The UCL-Ventura team has worked with charities including the International Medical Education Trust (IMET2000) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) to support distribution and manufacture around the world. Around 3,000 components of the kit have been delivered to countries by supply partner GTEM.

The team has also made the plans and details required to make the device freely available. Within 2 days of details being made available, nearly 700 requests to access the information were approved for manufacturers, non-profits, health experts and research institutes in 25 countries.

The team has been led by clinicians Prof Mervyn Singer (UCLH Critical Care and UCL Medicine) and Dr David Brealey (UCLH Critical Care and UCL Medicine), Prof Tim Baker (UCL Mechanical Engineering), Prof Rebecca Shipley (Director, UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering) and Prof David Lomas (School of Life and Medical Sciences).

Image credit: James Tye / UCL