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It has been one year since the first patient was successfully connected to the CoroVent pulmonary ventilator which was developed by a team led by Professor Karel Roubik from the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering of the Czech Technical University (FBME) in March 2020 in response to alarming reports from around the world about the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 virus patients and the shortage of pulmonary ventilators to treat these patients in Italy and other countries around the world. It happened on 31 October 2020 at the Regional Health Masaryk Hospital in Ústí nad Labem.

The CoroVent ventilators have been mass-produced by company MICo Medical in Trebic under a licence from the Czech Technical University thanks to funds raised through a public collection in spring 2020, to which citizens and Czech companies contributed. In 161 days from the start of development, CoroVent was certified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA EUA - Emergency Use Authorization).

In record short time, in the autumn of 2020, CoroVent received an exemption from the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic, which enabled the distribution and clinical use of these ventilators in Czech hospitals. "Complete certification is a long process involving clinical trials which could not be achieved in such a short time," adds Prof. Karel Roubík from FBME.

These pulmonary ventilators were then distributed to 27 Czech hospitals in winter 2020 and spring 2021. "The CoroVent ventilators first gave us peace of mind from the increase in ventilator capacity in our hospital and finally, in the most exposed days of March 2021, they actually helped several patients to bridge their respiratory failure with artificial lung ventilation. The staff was able to control the ventilator and set the ventilation parameters as with conventional ventilators," said Radek Zub, MD, from the Department of Emergency Medicine, Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine at the Hospital of the Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeo in Prague.

"The availability of CoroVent ventilators ensured that patients could be cared for even if standard ventilators ran out. The fact that this situation did not occur in most hospitals, however, does not detract from the importance of this act for solving the covid crisis," said Josef Škola, MD, EDIC, Regional Coordinator of Intensive Care of the Ústí nad Labem Region at the Ministry of Health and the Head of the Clinic of Anaesthesiology, Perioperative and Intensive Medicine at MNUL, the department where the ventilator was first used on a patient.

Fortunately, the number of patients at the beginning of the summer of 2021 has fallen and with it has also fallen the need for CoroVent pulmonary ventilators in Czech hospitals. At the same time, the supply of conventional commercial ventilators has been renewed and the capacity for ventilating patients in Czech hospitals has been increased. One year after the first installations of CoroVent ventilators in hospitals, we are preparing safety and technical checks to ensure that the ventilators are always ready when needed.

"Many other companies and experts have participated with us in the development, testing and distribution of CoroVent lung ventilators. We would like to thank company MICo and Jan Řezáč, Jindřich Křivka, Filip Kotouček, Ales Procháska and many others for their dedicated help. Many thanks also go to all those who supported the production of the ventilators in a public collection or supported another project in the fight against the pandemic," concludes Prof. Karel Roubík.