Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says he is “so proud” of his Mercedes team after it helped create a breathing aid for coronavirus patients in under a week.

Amid a shutdown following a delayed start to the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, all seven British F1 teams have responded to a call to arms from the UK government to help develop and manufacture life-saving medical supplies including ventilators.

Less than a week after the ‘Project Pitlane’ scheme was announced, Mercedes, in a joint venture with engineers at University College London and clinicians at ULCH, have built a device that can keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care.

Speaking in a post on his Instagram story, Hamilton said he was “so proud of my team” for its speedy response.

Like ventilators, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure devices are already used in hospitals but are in short supply. CPAPs are less intrusive to patients as they deliver oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator.

40 of the devices have been delivered to ULCH and three other London-based hospitals for trials. If successful, Mercedes plans to produce up to 1,000 CPAP machines per day at its Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrain facility in Brixworth, beginning as soon as a week’s time.

The rapid response is part of an industry-wide effort to manufacture and deliver respiratory devices along with the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, which includes Airbus, BAE Systems, Ford, Rolls-Royce and Siemens.

Project Pitlane is focused on three specific workstreams, varying from reverse engineering existing medical devices, support in scaling the production of existing ventilator designs, to the rapid design and prototype manufacture of a new device for certification and subsequent production.

 

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