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National team of experts join forces to boost ventilator stocks

25th April 2020

A team of clinical and engineering experts across Australia have joined forces on the OzVader Ventilator project – a new Intermittent Mandatory Ventilator (IMV) design which could be used to treat ICU patients locally and globally.

Created with the goal of boosting ventilator supplies during COVID-19, the OzVader Ventilator is in its final stages of testing ahead of seeking TGA approval.

Leading intensive care specialists and respiratory experts from The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, and Austin Hospital and Epworth Hospitals in Melbourne have given clinical guidance on the ventilator design. They worked alongside QUT’s Medical Engineering Research Facility (MERF) and Centre for Biomedical Technologies, as well as manufacturer Olitek and partners Elexon, Titley Scientific, the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub and Narm Rubber to bring the project to life.

Minister for State Development and Manufacturing Cameron Dick said a number of engineering and clinical consortiums had designed ventilator prototypes, which, pending TGA approval, could be manufactured locally.

“The response from manufacturers and medical experts in this state to the COVID-19 crisis has been magnificent.

 

Caption: (left-right) Bryan Davis (Olitek), Minister for State Development and Manufacturing Cameron Dick, James Oliver (Olitek), MERF Director Cameron Brown, Kiran Shekar (TPCH Senior ICU Specialist), and QUT’s Professor Ross Crawford.Photo: Anthony Weate, QUT Marketing & Communication.

“To coordinate this work, the Department of State Development has stood up a highly experienced panel of engineering, manufacturing and clinical experts, including internationally renowned Professor John Fraser from The Prince Charles and St Andrews Hospitals, to assess the prototypes.

MERF Director Professor Cameron Brown said the OzVader project has highlighted how well the interaction between clinicians, engineers and researchers can work.

“For the last fortnight we have had an opportunity to sit with ICU experts from (TPCH), highly skilled engineers from industry and QUT, including the ARM hub (a partnership between QUT and Urban Art Projects, and help pull together a project that we hope to see manufactured in Brisbane soon,” Professor Brown said.

“Professor Ross Crawford and I have been very excited to help pull the pieces together and assist Australian industry, as well as the health professionals and patients in Australia and elsewhere.”

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles said innovation supported by medical expertise would guarantee important supplies remain strong.

“This project is backed by clinical guidance, ensuring these ventilators are not only feasible to produce but are safe and recommended for use by Queensland doctors,” Mr Miles said.

“Leading researchers right here in Queensland have used this project as a way to give back during the current COVID-19 situation, using their expertise to create a product which aims to be used anywhere it is needed – from Tier 1 ICU wards to remote field hospitals globally.”

“We’re continually impressed with the innovative way Queensland’s best minds in tech, engineering and medicine have risen to the challenge to tackle COVID-19,” Mr Dick said.

The Prince Charles Hospital Senior ICU Specialist and Associate Professor Kiran Shekar said he was inspired to throw his efforts behind the project to ensure a top-quality product, no matter where it would be used.

“We’ve been conscious to balance the need to boost supplies at a low cost while ensuring we don’t compromise on quality and safety, such as clinical advice to inform design,” Shekar said.

“For me, the battle against COVID-19 is a battle that is not only fought in the ICU – it is fought in the community via public health measures and collaborations such as OzVader, where engineers and clinicians combine their knowledge for the greater good.”

Upon TGA approval, OzVader Ventilator will begin production which is able to be scaled up or down as demand requires with manufacturing set to begin in the coming weeks.

Caption for main photo: (left-right) Minister for State Development and Manufacturing Cameron Dick, James Oliver from Olitek, and QUT's Professor Ross Crawford at QUT's MERF facility with the new OzVader ventilator design.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Minister Dick – Lesley Major 0419 288 284

Minister Miles - Katharine Wright 0428 957 903

Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Kate Carey – 3647 9522 | 0418 804 269

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151, amanda.weaver@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

 

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