Portsmouth Aviation is set to start manufacturing negative pressure ventilators that will help those suffering from the respiratory effects of COVID-19. The huge advantage of these ventilators being negative pressure is that the treatment is non-invasive; the patient can receive breathing assistance via a mask, allowing them to be conscious, upright and able to talk to loved ones on the phone during treatment.
By comparison, positive pressure ventilators, which are currently being used in hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients, require the patient to be put into a medically-induced coma and intubated, which is much more invasive and can present additional dangers.
Four prototype negative pressure ventilation assistance devices were initially developed by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (MADG) in partnership with Exovent, a task force that was formed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Exovent is a consortium of medical professionals, scientists, engineers, academics and manufacturers who came together following calls from the UK Government for rapid innovation to combat the unique challenge presented by COVID-19. The group identified the potential for the application of negative pressure technology in the global battle against COVID-19 as well as other respiratory diseases.
MADG Chief Executive Gary Moynehan explains: “We are delighted to be able to hand the project over to Portsmouth Aviation and are optimistic that with their own engineering and manufacturing expertise, they will be able to deliver a cost effective product that will ultimately prove invaluable in the treatment of patients with a broad range of respiratory issues.”
Having taken the product to the pre-production stage via a range of stringent testing processes, MADG will now pass over all of its background knowledge, data, design and engineering drawings, along with a working prototype of the device, to the team at Portsmouth Aviation with a view to them attaining the appropriate CE marking, developing their own device and taking it into high volume production.
Managing Director of Portsmouth Aviation, Simon Escott said: “We’re extremely grateful to MADG for the extensive work they’ve undertaken to produce these four pre-production units. Portsmouth Aviation is delighted to join this exciting, innovative and potentially globally lifesaving solution at a key point in its development and to take it though to manufacture.
“We welcome the opportunity to be part of something that will soon provide significant support to our valued NHS and help in the fight against COVID-19. We’re looking forward to becoming an integral partner in this venture and working closely with all involved.”
Portsmouth Aviation has been working in partnership with the Exovent team for the past six months and now that an agreement with MADG has been reached, the next step is to further develop the device to prepare it for regulatory approval. They plan to submit the device for approval by August and hope to receive confirmation by the end of the year.
Once the approval has been secured – also known as CE marking – marketing of the device can commence, with clinicians permitted to start demonstrating the device in medical settings. This is sure to generate interest, leading to orders being placed. Once sales have been secured, the manufacturing process can begin and Portsmouth Aviation are hopeful this will happen in 2022.
Exovent CEO Ian Joesbury said: “The Exovent team are very excited about working with the amazing team at Portsmouth Aviation, who are updating the design prior to approval and will then become the design authority and manufacturer of this highly professional system. Simon Escott has been great to work with, taking on the challenge with enormous enthusiasm and professionalism. We believe Portsmouth Aviation shares our values and we are looking forward to a long and successful working relationship.”