Seven UK-based Formula 1 teams teamed up with engineers from University College London (UCL) and doctors from UCL Hospital to develop a breathing aid in under 100 hours. This device, a form of continuous positive airway pressure apparatus (CPAP), is meant to provide an alternative to intensive care for COVID-19 patients, and was designed and built in response to a call for assistance from the UK Government.
According to F1, the teams involved include Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, BWT Racing Point F1 Team, Haas F1 Team, McLaren F1 Team, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, Renault DP World F1 Team and ROKiT Williams Racing. Their efforts, dubbed ‘Project Pitlane,’ relied on the core skills of the F1 industry – rapid design, prototype manufacture, test and skilled assembly – to produce impressive results.
According to the Guardian, The CPAP device has been approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and placed in London hospitals for clinical trials. It functions by delivering a consistent supply of air to COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe. Unlike ventilation, which requires patients to be placed in an intensive care unit and undergo an invasive procedure, the CPAP device can be used on standard wards. UK hospitals already had some more basic models of CPAP device available, but far too few for the rapid influx of patients created by the pandemic.
Tim Cook, a professor of anaesthesia and intensive care medicine at the Royal United hospital Bath NHS foundation trust, said: “If the patient can stay on a CPAP machine they can stay on a ward looked after by specialised nurses rather than ICU nurses.
“A ward can probably look after 10 of these patients with two nurses and one doctor. Ten patients on ICU may need five or 10 nurses and three to four doctors. The cost and manpower needed on ICU is much, much greater, and ICU is a lot more complex and hazardous.”