University College London
- With the Formula 1 season on hold, the reigning champs aren’t fighting for a title—instead they’re fighting coronavirus by building CPAP machines.
- The CPAP machines can help patients with lung infections avoid the need for a ventilator, and they are being built with help from health-care professionals and engineers at University College London Hospital.
- Mercedes-AMG isn’t the only manufacturer producing medical equipment; Ford and GM are building ventilators, with other companies producing personal protective equipment.
It seems like the only Formula 1–related news as of late is that more races are getting canceled because of COVID-19. Most teams are sitting idly as well—but not the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team.
The reigning world champions, having won five straight constructors’ titles, have put some of that fight into beating COVID-19. The Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains division has partnered with University College London engineers and health-care workers at University College London Hospital (UCLH) to develop a CPAP device in less than a week to help coronavirus patients.
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and the device is far less invasive than a ventilator. These are the same CPAP machines used to help people who suffer from sleep apnea. CPAP devices can be used in hospitals for coronavirus patients, but, like ventilators, the devices are in short supply. The two differ in that ventilators breathe for the patient, while CPAP machines are a step up from oxygen for patients with lung infections and, UCLH said in a statement, “can help keep COVID-19 patients out of intensive care.” The CPAP machine has already been used for patients in Italy and China, two countries that have been hit very hard by the outbreak, and Italy reported that about 50 percent of patients who used CPAP avoided the need for a ventilator.
So far, 100 of the Mercedes F1 team’s devices are undergoing trials. The U.K.’s medical regulatory body has already approved the devices for use in hospitals, although they haven’t been field tested. If they pass trials, the Mercedes F1 team could build as many as 1000 per day.
In addition to the Mercedes team, a VentilatorChallengeUK group, which includes aviation giant Airbus plus Ford, Rolls-Royce, and others, will be working together to build ventilators for the U.K.’s National Health Service to use for coronavirus patients, the BBC reported today. Once they receive final approval, they will start production and already have orders for 10,000 ventilators.
As of right now, the Formula 1 racing season has been put on hold until at least June, forcing fans to watch old races and Netflix’s Drive to Survive and play F1 2019. Some drivers, such as Max Verstappen and Lando Norris, have taken to the virtual track in lieu of being able to go racing for real. But now you can picture the people around the Mercedes F1 team doing something much more useful during their time off.