Car parts maker Mando joins NASA project to develop ventilator for COVID-19 patients

By Park Sae-jin Posted : August 25, 2020, 15:59 Updated : August 25, 2020, 15:59

VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally) was created by JPL engineers to help patients with COVID-19.. [Courtesy of NASA]

SEOUL -- Mando, an auto parts maker affiliated with South Korea's Halla Group, was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to participate in the development of a high-pressure ventilator that provides oxygen to reduce the mortality rate of severe COVID-19 patients.

Mando said in a statement on August 25 that it was selected as a NASA's partner to co-develop and produce a special personal ventilator called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally). The NASA project involves companies from six continents. VITAL was originally invented by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in April this year.

The ventilator works as a bellows that moves air in and out of a patient's lungs. Unlike other stationary ventilator machines that are bulky, VITAL is the size of a small TV and can be hand-carried to help patients suffering from severe COVID-19 symptoms. The ventilator that took 37 days to be invented received an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 30. It also takes less time and effort to create than a full-sized ventilator.

NASA has looked for partners that would be offered a free license to produce VITAL. Mando is the only company in Northeast Asia that would locally produce and sell the special ventilator. Other companies based in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey were chosen as partners in the Asian region.

"VITAL plays the role that is similar to a fire extinguisher for households," a Mando official was quoted as saying. The official said that the special ventilator device can meet growing demands for breathing apparatuses.

The global community faced an extreme shortage in ventilator devices. Some experts including Colin Cooke, an associate professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care at the University of Michigan, claimed that ventilators can reduce the mortality of COVID-19 patients in the critical state down to 20 percent. The mortality rate reached as high as 90 percent earlier this year.
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