Vayu (Ujenzi) is ramping up and the excitement is palpable!
What an unusual, challenging, and emotional summer it’s been in quarantine!
But through disasters like this, opportunity sometimes arises. These strange circumstances have enabled us to obtain emergency FDA approval in May. Since then, I’m happy to report that our bubble CPAP devices have been able to save and improve the lives of over 500 newborns and infants!
It’s been all hands on deck this summer and I’d like to share our latest developments.
On to the update…
How the Vayu-bCPAP Works
First off, our summer interns put together this great video that explains how our Bubble CPAP works and saves the lives of babies who are suffering from respiratory distress. It’s a refreshingly simple engineering alternative to complex (and much more expensive) Western medical machines.
Extending Our Reach Through New Partnerships
This summer, Vayu-bCPAP devices have been used to treat over 500 newborns and infants in the US (Navajo Nation), Canada, Italy, Vietnam, India, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Kenya.
And we have no plans to slow down.
The Director of Newborn and Child Health for the US Agency for International Development a few weeks ago stated,
The Vayu-bCPAP is an enormous game changer
Doors to new communities are being opened by our wonderful new partners. A few highlights…
- We’re working closely with Save the Children to extend our reach to several more Southeast Asian countries where we will supply Vayu-bCPAP devices and train on use.
- Family Health International (FHI-360) has asked Vayu to become their technical and engineering experts on oxygen delivery for many of the countries where they work starting with Nigeria and Ghana.
- The InterAmerican Development Bank is hoping to deploy Vayu-bCPAP devices across large regions of South and Central America and has identified 6 teaching hospitals where they wish to start in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Chiapas Mexico.
- And last, but certainly not least, we are proud to be the first recipient of the UnitaidExplore award from UNITAID/WHO for innovations to increase access to oxygen therapy. This award comes with a grant that will accelerate our engineering and regulatory processes as well as allow us to undertake field work in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Unitaid Director of Strategy shared:
We see huge potential with Vayu and think these technologies can be game-changers for oxygen provision to babies. Access to oxygen is critical and we are excited to partner with Vayu in this exciting new initiative, advancing tools to save lives.
Research & Development Progress (Bubble CPAP)
While our devices are saving lives and preventing disabilities (like blindness, brain and lung injury), we are capturing feedback from local practitioners and making continuous improvements.
- The FDA EUA approved Vayu-bCPAP is currently 3D printed which constrains our ability to produce at high volumes. But our Engineering team has been upgrading an injection molded version that will allow for mass production. And hot off the press, we now have “design lock” and have entered the US FDA 510 (K) process!
- We recently became aware that the development of a multi-use viral bacterial filter for our bCPAP device can additionally be used to address a severe global shortage of exactly the same filters for use in ventilators here in the US and worldwide.
- In addition to the bCPAP device advances for hospitals and ambulances, and the multi-use filter, we are also nearly finished with design of a low-flow oxygen Blender circuit for newborns, infants and young children. These circuits typically cost between 800 and 1200 USD and prevent the toxic effects of oxygen on the eyes, brain and lungs but are too expensive for most of the world. However, the cost of materials of our innovative low-flow Blender circuit will be about 25 USD and therefore available for every newborn, infant, and child on earth.
- We are in the process of redoing/improving our training package for high quality virtual training in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic…
Our Team is Growing
Vayu has been lucky enough to attract world-class talent. And we’re excited to share these wonderful additions to our team.
- 7 extremely talented Harvard and Dartmouth graduate and undergraduate students are taking the year off from school to work full-time for Vayu this coming year.
- Dr. Indira Narayanan, a world leading senior neonatologist professor at Georgetown, and consultant for numerous countries is moving to Boston to join the team.
Highlighting Our Founder
Our Founder and President, Dr. Thomas Burke, is a renowned, global human rights activist and one of the busiest men I know. In case you were wondering what he was up to this summer (aside from steering the ship at Vayu)…
- He is co-chair of the International Federation of OBGYN Task Force on COVID-19 (supporting safe births worldwide in this time of COVID-19).
- He holds twice monthly webinars for multiple countries around the world on COVID-19 updates.
- He supports the CARICOM region (Caribbean Countries) Prime Ministers on their strategies on COVID-19 with a tele-conference every week.
- And please congratulate Dr. Burke for recently being nominated for the Barbara J. McNeil Faculty Award for Exceptional Service to Harvard Medical School!