TVC Group is handling the UK broadcast media relations for Richard Branson's aerospace company Virgin Orbit, which has devised a new mass-producible ventilator to help in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Virgin Orbit team has been consulting with the Bridge Ventilator Consortium (BVC), led by the University of California Irvine (UCI) and the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), a group formed to spawn and nurture efforts to build producible, simple ventilators to aid in the current COVID-19 crisis.
TVC has been hitting the phones, targeting broadcasters including Sky, Reuters and CNN International, and is sharing the remarkable story across content hosting and distribution platform digitalnewsagency.com.
Pending clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Virgin Orbit aims to commence production at its Long Beach manufacturing facility in early April, sprinting to deliver units into the hands of first responders and healthcare professionals as soon as possible.
As the COVID-19 crisis worsens and the paucity of medical equipment becomes more and more clear, the Virgin Orbit team is strongly motivated to do all they can to help.
On a normal day, the company is building rockets and other equipment for space launch. They have a team of innovative and agile thinkers – experts in designing, fabricating, programming, testing – who are eager to lend a hand and create a new medical device to help health care workers treat patients with COVID-19.
After contacting governor Gavin Newsom last week, Virgin Orbit was directed by his office to the California Emergency Medical Services Authority.
Today, complex, high-end, ICU-capable ventilators are sometimes the only option available for moderate cases — for people who don’t necessarily need intensive care or have partially recovered.
By supplying “bridge” ventilators, Virgin Orbit’s device can free up those critical resources for the most ill. “We face a slow-motion Dunkirk, and getting ventilators out there is very important to save lives,” said Dr. Brian J.F. Wong, assistant chairman of otolaryngology at UCI. “The demand outstrips supply, so it is important the government, industry, academia, non-profits, and the community work together to identify solutions, and design and construct them as fast as possible.”
Virgin Orbit engineers have taken rapid scaling into account from the beginning of the design process, taking advantage of the most common and robust manufacturing and assembly processes. The company’s aim is to have a functioning, deployable bridge ventilator in production in early April.
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said: “We are all heartbroken each night as we turn on the news and see the predicament facing doctors and nurses as they heroically work to save lives. I have never seen our team working harder. Never seen ideas moving quicker from design to prototype. We are hopeful that this device can help as we all prepare for the challenges ahead.”
Rachel Francis, client services director at TVC Group, said: “This is a much-needed good news story and we’re so happy to be able to help tell it. The team has tackled this with lots of energy and dedication and we’re really thankful for the amazing response from broadcasters.”