BVC-19: A Consortium Response to COVID-19
BVC-19 Founding: BVC-19 began when faculty at the University of California at Irvine recognized that once the COVID-19 pandemic entered the United States a crisis in medical equipment availability might quickly develop that the United States was unprepared to address. Based on observations in Wuhan and the Lombardy region in Italy, the real yet devastating possibility of too few ICU beds and a corresponding ventilator shortage was recognized. Next to the possibility of a ventilator shortage, need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for local hospitals and laboratory personnel working on COVID-19 projects was also recognized. BVC-19 was founded as a forum for individuals, Universities and private enterprises that support the development, testing and translation of methods and devices to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients. BVC-19 is unique and includes scientists, engineers, medical professionals, business executives and regulatory experts. Recognizing the important function the forum was providing to the University of California at Irvine and surrounding areas in Southern California and the entire country, the Vice Chancellor for Research provided a seed grant to encourage BVC-19 development activities. In addition to the seed grant, a BVC-19 account was established within the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic to accept donations and financial support from county, state and federal agencies.
BVC-19 Devices: The first BVC-19 initiative was development and delivery of bridge breathing devices for use if ICU’s run short of conventional ventilators to sustain the lives of COVID-19 patients. The BVC-19 bridge breathing devices use widely available an inexpensive artificial manual breathing units (AMBU) bags that are commonly used for emergency manual ventilation of patients. Virgin Orbit – a satellite delivery company in Southern California within the Virgin Group - launched a program to manufacture and supply CamBu bridge breathing units to fill potential shortages. The Cockrell School of Engineering and the Dell Medical School in Austin, TX developed an Assisted Bag Breathing Unit or ABBU. The ABBU device is being manufactured to address ventilator shortages in the local Austin and surrounding areas. Both efforts were encouraged and supported by BVC-19 attendees participating in daily online meetings that regularly includes fifty or more people. After the ventilator effort was launched, anecdotal reports out of Italy and Spain suggested COVID-19 patients without severely compromised lung compliance might respond better with a bubble or mask device in which the patient’s head or whole body is in fluid communication within an enclosure that provides incoming oxygen and rapidly removes aerosolized particles. Various negative pressure bubble enclosures, CPAP, and BiPAP devices have been developed, presented and critiqued daily on the BVC-19 forum.
BVC-19 Diagnostic Imaging and Therapies: The development of numerous assisted breathing units and PPE have been incubated, critiqued and group-sourced out of BVC-19 in an open and inclusive forum environment. BVC-19 outlook is directed toward the development of longer-term diagnostic and treatment strategies – particularly those that utilize light. Ongoing projects include therapeutic approaches that can use photo-active agents that target the SARS-CoV-2 in the throat and low-cost diagnostic imaging that can detect micro-clotting in COVID-19 ICU patients. Support for additional projects that under active discussion is being sought