Updated: Jul 23
Written by: Alexis Ha
Edited by: Emon Heidari
Will Pomerantz, vice president of special projects, and Kevin Zagorski, manager of the advanced manufacturing group at Virgin Orbit (VO), give an overview of their "Virgin Orbit Ventilator," and how the Bridge Ventilator Consortium (BVC) influenced and supplemented their product development process.
As the global COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold of the nation, the University of California, Irvine, home chapter of the BVC, began reaching out to local Southern California companies with manufacturing scale to meet the rising demand and eminent shortage of ventilators necessary to sustain COVID-19 patients. Without much hesitation, VO stepped up to the plate offering up their fantastic team of engineers and regulatory personnel to assist with the development and deployment of a low-cost scalable ambu bag ventilator. With key insight from the BVC medical experts, VO was able to rapidly hone in on critical design parameters necessary for the successful and safe operation of their device. In our interview, Will Pomerantz goes into detail of how the BVC was able to assist his team through their journey with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fast tracked Emergency Use Authorization(EUA) with keen insight and recommendations for others who are pursuing a similar path.
Not only has VO set an example of the speed and diligence of a rapid product development in response to the pandemic domestically in the USA, Virgin Unite(Virgin Group’s philanthropic arm) has connected with many philanthropists to deliver aid abroad to countries in dire situations with limited ventilator resources. Virgin Unite has developed relationships with Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean who has committed to help the cause of health in Africa as well as Jeffrey Skoll, a Canadian entrepreneur, along with many other manufacturers and philanthropists who have funded the first 1000 Virgin Orbit Ventilators to be deployed at cost.
Even as a non-traditional medical manufacturer, Virgin Orbit has been able to work with the state of California(Office of Emergency Services), to provide 600 ventilator units and as Mr. Zagorski mentioned, "If there is a larger wave or bigger need, Virgin Orbit could produce internally or on their own, but we have a very simple design that can be rapidly produced whether here in the US or elsewhere internationally."