Richard Branson Swaps Cruise And Space Production In Favour Of Ventilators
Richard Branson’s California-based rocket company has switched gears in order to develop a ventilator device that will be mass-produced and sent to hospitals in need during the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
“Usually we’re working on rocket engines and launch systems that take satellites to orbit. But with the looming COVID-19 crisis, we reached out to [California] Gov. Newsom and asked ‘what can we do to help?’" Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said.
Existing ventilators deliver air to the lungs through a pump placed in the windpipe, but due to the global shortage of these devices, Virgin Orbit hopes to get their device to hospitals as soon as possible. These devices will compress medical ambu bags, thus helping COVID-19 patients to breath.
″[It is] a very, very simple and robust design that we can get out to the people who are in the most need, and the hospitals that are in the most need, of devices like these very, very quickly,” said Kevin Zagorski, Virgin Orbit’s ventilator project leader.
According to CNBC, Virgin Orbit expects to be able to create thousands of devices per week in the near future and while the space company is not necessarily in the medical device business, thanks to the guidance of doctors and engineers at the University of California Irvine and the University of Texas at Austin, the brand will be able to mass-produce these devices at rapid speed—although the company does not yet have a precise timeline for FDA approval.
“We at Virgin Orbit want to do everything we can for the broader community as we all prepare for the challenges ahead,” Hart noted.