U of M's new low-cost ventilator gets FDA approval

A device made by researchers at the University of Minnesota.
The University of Minnesota hopes its low-cost medical ventilator, which just received FDA approval, can fill a need in clinical settings where traditional ventilators are not available.
Courtesy of University of Minnesota

Updated: 3:28 p.m. | Posted: 12:45 p.m.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has authorized production of a new, simple ventilator just developed by engineers and doctors at the University of Minnesota.

The Coventor is the brainchild of a group trying to come up with an easy-to-make and low-cost breathing assistance device amid fears that there won’t be enough to help a surge of COVID-19 patients.

The machine to help people breathe uses a basic motor to squeeze a plastic air pump usually operated by hand. Modern ventilators are equipped with computers, and can cost $30,000 or more.

Dr. Steve Richardson helped develop the design at the U. He said it can be built for $1,000 on an assembly line in Minnesota.

“Boston Scientific is gearing up on an assembly line as we speak and so they are going to start manufacturing. Within approximately the next week or so the design will be released online,” Richardson said, adding that Boston Scientific may be able to build thousands of the devices.

FDA approval means they can be built and distributed to health systems. The U is making the plans open source so that they can be produced locally with a minimum of machinery.

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