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Dyson to develop ventilators for the NHS

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Close-up of logo for luxury vacuum cleaner company Dyson on end piece of vacuum cleaner, September 20, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Dyson said it had been working 'round the clock' to develop the new ventilator. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson has announced it is developing a ventilator for the NHS to help treat coronavirus patients.

The move comes as a response to the government’s call for help in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said it has been working “round the clock” with medical technology and development company The Technology Partnership to develop the new ventilator.

The development work will include using components from vacuum cleaners and testing prototypes on pigs’ lungs, according to ITV News.

However,some industry critics have suggested that Dyson's process of designing a new model will take too long.

The usual timeline for designing and producing a new ventilator is two to three years and there is concern that the NHS could run short of equipment within weeks.

Read more: UK manufacturers to use 3D-printing to build ventilators for NHS

A Dyson spokesperson said: “Dyson has responded to the Government’s request for support with its Covid-19 response by focusing resources into the design and manufacture of a ventilator for the NHS.

“This is a highly complex project being undertaken in an extremely challenging timeframe.

“We have deployed expertise in air movement, motors, power systems, manufacturing and supply chain and are working with medical technology and development company TTP, The Technology Partnership, based in Cambridge.

“Together we have been working around the clock and through the past two weekends to develop a meaningful and timely response.

“We are conducting a full regulated medical device development, including testing in the laboratory and in humans, and we are scaling up for volume.”

Read more: Elon Musk donates over 1,200 ventilators to California hospitals

Meanwhile, a group of more than a dozen companies is planning to build ventilators based on two existing designs.

UK manufacturers such as Vauxhall and Airbus (AIR.PA) are planning to repurpose their factories and utilise 3D-printing technology to create parts for ventilators to treat coronavirus patients.

Engineers, anaesthetists and surgeons from the University of Oxford and King's College London, known as the OxVent team, are also working on developing another new type of ventilator.

Their model is less advanced than existing commercial models, but is quicker to construct, according to the BBC.

“Creating new designs which can complement existing models might help meet demand," Dr Federico Forment, from OxVent, told the BBC.

“Companies can't switch overnight — you can't put a Formula One component into a ventilator, it will take time.”

The project is still waiting to hear back from the government.

Read more: One of UK's richest men pledges to build hand sanitiser plant in 10 days

“Recreating established prototypes is likely to be a faster way to deal with the immediate demand,” Dr Marion Hersh, senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at the University of Glasgow, told the BBC.

“They may not have to go through all the regulatory hoops, but regulation will still need to be done properly. However, there could be value in more than one option in the slightly longer term.”