New F1 oxygen masks fast-tracked for the NHS

We keep hearing about a form of oxygen therapy that’s non-invasive but may be enough to support mild to moderate breathing problems in Covid patients, even avoiding the necessity of the more invasive ventilation.

What is this device? Could it be an alternative to a ventilator.

And could it be manufactured at speed? It could if Mercedes Formula One (F1) engineers have anything to do with it.

The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines would be supplied to the NHS to use on Covid-19 patients with serious lung infections. The great advantage of CPAP is that it’s less invasive than a ventilator.

In collaboration with mechanical engineers at University College London and clinicians at University College London Hospital (UCLH), the F1 company has produced a CPAP machine that can be rapidly rolled out.

And it has approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, so they could be used immediately.

One hundred devices are being delivered to UCLH for clinical trials, with many more planned for roll out across the country, reports Elisabeth Mahase in the BMJ.

CPAP machines are already used for sleep apnoea and they work by pushing an air-oxygen mix into the mouth and nose at a continuous rate.

They can also work for Covid-19 pneumonia, which affects the ability of the tiny alveoli in the lungs to absorb oxygen.

The pressure keeps the alveoli open when the patient breathes out, helping oxygenation and making breathing easier.

Invasive ventilators deliver oxygen directly into the lungs, requiring heavy sedation and a tube placed into the patient’s windpipe.

Also, CPAP doesn’t require specialist nursing or intensive monitoring and patients can be weaned off and put back on it again if needed. There is, however, a short supply of the machines in the UK, a problem that Mercedes could solve.

UCLH critical care consultant Mervyn Singer said, “These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill.

“While they will be tested at UCLH first, we hope they will make a real difference to hospitals across the UK by reducing demand on intensive care staff and beds, as well as helping patients recover without the need for more invasive ventilation.”

Andy Cowell, managing director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, said, “We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible time frame.”