January 29, 2022

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NASA-Developed Ventilator Authorized by FDA for Emergency Use

8 min read

The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory designed the device for coronavirus patients with rapid production in mind. The license is being offered for free to manufacturers.


A new high-pressure ventilator developed by NASA engineers and tailored to treat coronavirus (COVID-19) patients today was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use under the FDA’s March 24 ventilator Emergency Use Authorization.

Called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), the device was developed by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California to free up the nation’s limited supply of traditional ventilators so they may be used on patients with the most severe COVID-19 symptoms.

“This FDA authorization is a key milestone in a process that exemplifies the best of what government can do in a time of crisis,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This ventilator is one of countless examples of how taxpayer investments in space exploration – the skills, expertise and knowledge collected over decades of pushing boundaries and achieving firsts for humanity – translate into advancements that improve life on Earth.”

The Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships at Caltech, which manages JPL for NASA, is offering a free license for VITAL and is reaching out to the commercial medical industry to find manufacturers for the device.

“Now that we have a design, we’re working to pass the baton to the medical community, and ultimately patients, as quickly as possible,” said Fred Farina, chief innovation and corporate partnerships officer at Caltech. “To that end, we are offering the designs for licensing on a royalty-free basis during the time of the pandemic.”

The Emergency Use Authorization allows for use of the device specifically for COVID-19 patients, with the aim of addressing the acute demand for ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic. Like all ventilators, VITAL requires patients to be sedated and have an oxygen tube inserted into their airway to breathe.

“Fighting the virus and treating patients during this unprecedented global pandemic requires innovative approaches and action. It also takes an all-hands-on-deck approach, as demonstrated by the NASA engineers who used their expertise in spacecraft to design a ventilator tailored for very ill coronavirus patients. This example shows what we can do when everyone works together to fight COVID-19,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. “We believe today’s action will increase availability of these life-saving medical devices. The FDA will continue to add products to this emergency use authorization, as appropriate, during this pandemic to facilitate an increase in ventilator inventory.”

Prior to the FDA’s review, the VITAL prototype passed a critical test April 21 at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. VITAL poses several benefits in the national response to COVID-19. It can be built faster and maintained more easily than a traditional ventilator, and is composed of far fewer parts, many of which are currently available to potential manufacturers through existing supply chains. Its flexible design means it also can be modified for use in field hospitals being set up in convention centers, hotels and other high-capacity facilities across the country and around the globe. Intended to last three or four months, the new device wouldn’t replace current hospital ventilators, which can last years and are built to address a broader range of medical issues.

“It’s been exhilarating coming up with VITAL’s design,” said Michelle Easter, a mechatronics engineer at JPL who worked on developing the device. “Now that we have FDA approval, we’re looking forward to seeing companies license this technology and share it with the rest of the world.”

To learn more about how NASA is helping in the national response to COVID-19, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/coronavirus

News Media Contact

Bettina Inclán / Matthew Rydin / Karen Northon
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1600 / 202-603-7522 /202-358-1540
bettina.inclan@nasa.gov / matthew.m.rydin@nasa.gov / karen.northon@nasa.gov

Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-2433
andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

2020-087

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  • VA and Defense Health Care: More Information Needed to Determine If VA Can Meet an Increase in Demand for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Services
    In U.S GAO News
    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by an extremely stressful event and can develop after the threat of death or serious injury as in military combat. Experts predict that about 15 percent of servicemembers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will develop PTSD. Efforts by VA to inform new veterans, including Reserve and National Guard members, about the expanded availability of VA health care services could result in an increased demand for VA PTSD services. GAO identified the approaches DOD uses to identify servicemembers at risk for PTSD and examined if VA has the information it needs to determine whether it can meet an increase in demand for PTSD services. GAO visited military bases and VA facilities, reviewed relevant documents, and interviewed DOD and VA officials to determine how DOD identifies servicemembers at risk for PTSD, and what information VA has to estimate demand for VA PTSD services.DOD uses two approaches to identify servicemembers at risk for PTSD: the combat stress control program and the post-deployment health assessment questionnaire. The combat stress control program trains servicemembers to recognize the early onset of combat stress, which can lead to PTSD. Symptoms of combat stress and PTSD include insomnia, nightmares, and difficulties coping with relationships. To assist servicemembers in the combat theater, teams of DOD mental health professionals travel to units to reinforce the servicemembers' knowledge of combat stress symptoms and to help identify those who may be at risk for combat stress and PTSD. DOD also uses the post-deployment health assessment questionnaire to identify physical ailments and mental health issues commonly associated with deployments, including PTSD. The questionnaire includes the following four screening questions that VA and DOD mental health experts developed to identify servicemembers at risk for PTSD: Have you ever had any experience that was so frightening, horrible, or upsetting that, in the past month, you (1) have had any nightmares about it or thought about it when you did not want to; (2) tried hard not to think about it or went out of your way to avoid situations that remind you of it; (3) were constantly on guard, watchful, or easily startled; and/or (4) felt numb or detached from others, activities, or your surroundings? VA lacks the information it needs to determine whether it can meet an increase in demand for VA PTSD services. VA does not have a count of the total number of veterans currently receiving PTSD services at its medical facilities and Vet Centers--community-based VA facilities that offer trauma and readjustment counseling. Without this information, VA cannot estimate the number of new veterans its medical facilities and Vet Centers could treat for PTSD. VA has two reports on the number of veterans it currently treats, with each report counting different subsets of veterans receiving PTSD services. Veterans who are receiving VA PTSD services may be counted in both reports, one of the reports, or not included in either report. VA does receive demographic information from DOD, which includes home addresses of servicemembers that could help VA predict which medical facilities or Vet Centers servicemembers may access for health care. By assuming that 15 percent or more of servicemembers who have left active duty status will develop PTSD, VA could use the home zip codes of servicemembers to broadly estimate the number of servicemembers who may need VA PTSD services and identify the VA facilities located closest to their homes. However, predicting which veterans will seek VA care and at which facilities is inherently uncertain, particularly given that the symptoms of PTSD may not appear for years.
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  • Retirement Savings: Federal Workers’ Portfolios Should Be Evaluated For Possible Financial Risks Related to Climate Change
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Retirement plans' investments, including those of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for federal employees, could be exposed to financial risks from climate change, according to GAO's literature review and interviews with stakeholders knowledgeable about climate change and financial markets. Stakeholders said climate-related events, from natural disasters to changes in government policy, are expected to impact much of the economy and thereby investment returns (see figure). Retirement plans can assess their exposure to these risks by analyzing the potential financial performance of holdings in their portfolios under projected climate change scenarios. How Climate Change Could Impact Retirement Plan Investments GAO reviewed retirement plans in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Sweden that had taken steps to incorporate climate change risks into their plan management. Officials from these plans described using engagement—such as outreach to corporate boards—to encourage companies in which they invest to address their financial risks from climate change. Officials had taken other steps as well, such as incorporating climate change as a financial risk into their policies and practices. Officials communicate information on climate-related investment risks through public disclosures and reports. The agency that oversees TSP, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), has not taken steps to assess the risks to TSP's investments from climate change as part of its process for evaluating investment options. Officials told us that they use a passive investment strategy and do not focus on risks to a specific industry or company. FRTIB is required by statute to invest TSP's funds passively, however, it has previously identified and addressed investment risks. For example, in the 1990s, FRTIB reviewed its investment policies and recommended adding an international equities fund and a small- and medium-capitalization stock fund, both passively managed, to incorporate classes of assets that it determined were missing from TSP's investment mix. Stakeholders in the financial sector, including an advisory panel to a federal financial regulator, have stated that it is important to consider the investment risks from climate change. Evaluating such risks is also consistent with GAO's Disaster Resilience Framework. Taking action to understand the financial risks that climate change poses to the TSP would enhance FRTIB's risk management and help it protect the retirement savings of federal workers. Why GAO Did This Study Climate change is expected to have widespread economic impacts and pose risks to investments held by retirement plans, including the federal government's TSP. As of November 2020, TSP had 6 million active and retired federal employee participants and nearly $700 billion in assets. GAO was asked to examine how the agency that oversees TSP has addressed its exposure to such risks. This report examines (1) what is known about retirement plans' exposure to climate change-related investment risks, (2) what comparable retirement plans in other countries have done to address risks from climate change and how they communicate this information to the public, and (3) what steps FRTIB has taken to address investment risks from climate change. GAO reviewed relevant literature and interviewed representatives from investment consulting firms and other stakeholders knowledgeable about climate change and its possible financial impacts. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from selected retirement plans for public- and private-sector employees in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Sweden identified as examples of plans that are addressing climate risks. GAO also reviewed TSP documents, and interviewed FRTIB officials.
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  • Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nude Photos of Dozens of Victims
    In Crime News
    A New York man pleaded guilty Monday to computer fraud and aggravated identity theft related to his hacking of online social media accounts and theft of nude images of dozens of female victims.
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Locsin
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Report Detailing Government Efforts to Combat Robocalls Released to Congress
    In Crime News
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified seven priority recommendations for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Since then, NRC implemented one of these recommendations by issuing a risk management strategy that addresses key elements foundational to effectively managing cybersecurity risks. The remaining six priority recommendations involve the following areas: addressing the security of radiological sources. improving the reliability of cost estimates. improving strategic human capital management. NRC's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or gaffiganm@gao.gov.
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  • Special Representative for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim’s Trilateral Call with Republic of Korea (ROK) Special Representative Noh and Japan Director General Funakoshi
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
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