Shortage is a word we have heard many times in this coronavirus crisis. Shortage of gels, masks, protections for caregivers, reagents for tests … What if there were not enough intensive care beds, and therefore not enough respirators? The urgency is there.
To answer them all together, doctors, engineers, industry, politicians, Belgian financiers, came together in a task force, in a collaborative approach, in order to develop a respirator in record time.
Barely ten days is indeed the time it will have taken for a group led by engineers from UCLouvain and its OpenHub, industry, the medical world (Saint-Luc university clinics , Groupe Jolimont) to develop a prototype artificial respirator to meet the needs of hospitals. After showing conclusive results on artificial lungs, it was presented to the press this Thursday morning.
Created in and for emergencies
Created in and for emergencies, this respirator called “Breath4Life” was not designed for long-term commercial application, but specifically to respond to an emergency, that of the coronavirus crisis. The advantage? “This avoids the financial stakes and it accelerates the process of authorization, validation and production. While respecting rigorous specifications, as much as possible in line with the needs of the hospital environment “, explains Olivier Lequenne, development director of the Jolimont Group.
How did we arrive at such speed of execution? “It was during an informal discussion on Tuesday March 17 between UCLouvain researchers and doctors on how to support the medical effort thanks to MedTechs that the idea was launched, says Regis Lomba, researcher at the UCLouvain OpenHub. The goal was to join forces to create an open source respirator. “
“Exploring several tracks at the same time increases the chances of arriving at a concrete solution”, adds Nicolas Bronchart, representative of the industry. No matter who gets there, the goal is the result ”
It is precisely the diversity of the stakeholders that made it possible to directly envisage the entire life cycle of “Breath4Life”: prototyping, certification, production, financing, …
Available in 7 days
And now what are the next steps? Here too, things are not dragging since industrialization and production start (stages for which the company Coexpair centralizes the good will and the proposals of many Belgian companies), with a delivery of the first respirators in Belgian hospitals is planned within 7 days.
The project, supported by more than 200 volunteers from different backgrounds, is supported by many companies and organizations, including UCLouvain, but also Coexpair, Covartim, Elia, IBA, Odoo, ATLR Engineering, … “And many more are ready to board for the next steps “, we say at UCLouvain which cites Sonaca, FN Herstal, Safran Aerobooster, etc.