On 13 March 2020, TTP was asked by the UK Government to assist in the rapid development and manufacture of ventilators to address the anticipated rise in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Known as the ‘Ventilator Challenge’, companies from across the UK worked to design and supply ventilators that would enable hospital staff to administer critical care to patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
Given its experience in both medical device development and manufacture, TTP was ideally placed to develop a new ventilator that could be rapidly delivered against a background of rising international demand due to the pandemic – and everyone at TTP wanted to do everything they could to help.
Working to a specification published by the Government, TTP’s experts in medical device design came together during the lockdown to answer this technical, logistical and regulatory challenge. Clinical, engineering, electronics, software and human factors groups worked around the clock to develop a safe and effective ventilator that could be delivered to the NHS in high volumes. In total, a 140 strong TTP team contributed to the effort, with up to 90 working on the project at any one time, to complete within weeks a development that would normally take years.
A major aspect of the challenge was to design a ventilator from readily available parts, to be rapidly assembled, and to pass regulatory approvals. Scaling up the manufacture of an existing hospital ventilator typically requires complex components that cannot be sourced in high volumes at short notice. TTP’s new ventilator, CoVent, aimed to reduce medical device development and volume production to a matter of weeks.
Despite the rapid timescale, TTP designed and tested CoVent in accordance with medical device development standards. While TTP’s clinical teams worked to fully understand the needs of patients and clinicians, from getting the fundamentals right to more advanced features such as suction modes and spontaneous ventilation, TTP’s engineers worked with manufacturing partners to establish the supply chain and production facilities.
Within the first week of the project, TTP had successfully demonstrated the prototype of CoVent, a functioning ventilator that could meet the specification. And within one month, the production line was established and the first production CoVent submitted to the MHRA for approval.
What the TTP teams have achieved over the past few weeks is astounding. CoVent is an amazing success story of experts working together and achieving what everyone thought was impossible.
The work to develop the CoVent device to this point has been extraordinary. It is a credit to TTP and your partners for accelerating a process which typically takes years to a number of weeks. I would like to offer my greatest appreciation and thanks for the quite extraordinary endeavour, enterprise and ingenuity shown by all involved in the CoVent ventilator.
Thankfully, the UK demand for ventilators is not as initially envisaged, and CoVent is not required for the UK market, but the CoVent story does not end here. As the crisis continues, TTP is exploring how to address worldwide interest in CoVent.