King’s collaborates with Oxford to develop prototype ventilators that can be produced by universities

All staff with clinical qualifications released from King’s allowing them to return to the NHS

King’s is partnering with the University of Oxford to develop prototype ventilators that can be produced in university and small to medium enterprise (SME) workshops. King’s has also released all staff with clinical qualifications so they are free to support the NHS from a frontline position if they wish, and is looking at supporting with COVID-19 testing.

One of the most critical bottlenecks in the fight against COVID-19 is the lack of ventilators. The UK originally had 5,000, and has now increased its stocks to 12,000, but still needs many times this number to avoid triage decisions having to be made between which patient will receive the life-saving machine and which will not.

King’s and Oxford have put together a team of medics and engineers who are now building and testing prototype ventilators.

The designs are simple enough that university and SME workshops can produce them, potentially enabling universities across the UK to join the national effort to increase the UK’s ventilator stocks, alongside manufacturers.

On Twitter, King’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine shared an image of the prototype ventilator.

The team is led by Dr Federico Formenti, King’s, and Oxford Professors Andrew Farmery, Mark Thompson and Alfonso Castrejon-Pita.

Formenti said the team’s work could prove valuable “beyond the current pandemic” as they are “aiming to share the know-how and refinement of this relatively inexpensive approach with other countries.”

The team aim to design a ventilator that “universities, SMEs and large industry” can produce.

Where the facilities exist, teams “would be able to make and assemble these ventilators in their own hospital. This would allow local scaling according to demand, and reduce stress on the NHS.”

King’s has released all clinically-qualified staff from their academic duties, allowing them to support the NHS effort from a frontline capacity if they wish.

Professor Ian Everall, Executive Dean Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) and Professor Richard Trembath, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, said in an email to King’s staff “as a medical community, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to bolster the NHS frontline response.”

Professors Everall and Trembath have both volunteered themselves. Trembath said “we are all looking at ways to help NHS colleagues. As with so many of my clinical academic colleagues, I have expressed a desire to do whatever I can to support those delivering frontline services.”

King’s are also exploring ways they can support the NHS and Public Health England with COVID-19 testing. This is likely to include a diagnostic service, where samples from clinical swabs will be prepared.

Professor Stuart Neil, Head of Department, Infectious Diseases, said “NHS testing for COVID19 is severely limited and will become more and more so as the epidemic progresses.

“As biomedical scientists, this is something we can do to help make a difference and these measures could offer a much needed lifeline to the already stretched NHS.”

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