Formula 1’s efforts to combat COVID-19 have already started to bear fruit, with Mercedes assisting in the development of a breathing aid that helps keep patients out of intensive care.
Mercedes have been working in collaboration with University College London to develop and build a breathing aid without the need of a ventilator. The solution? The ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device’, CPAP for short.
CPAP has already been approved by the NHS in the UK with the technology already in use in China and Italy. Both nations have been declared by the World Health Organisation as the epicentre of the pandemic.
The CPAP works by pushing a steady flow of oxygen rich air into the mouth and nostrils of a patient at pressure meaning the lungs remain open allowing for greater oxygen uptake.
The system is less invasive than ventilators currently in use which require a patient to be sedated and intubated.
The collaboration between UCL and Mercedes began on March 18th with reverse engineering of a CPAP system taking “fewer than 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device,”.
“The Formula 1 community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the ‘Project Pitlane’ collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects,” said Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains. “We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible timeframe.”
Although CPAP machines are regularly used by the NHS, they are in very short supply. Mercedes intends to alleviate that shortage by producing up-to 1000 units a day.