Scientists at the world’s largest particle physics laboratory are developing a no-frills ventilator to treat patients with COVID-19, inspired by equipment they use to explore the mysteries of the universe.
Ventilator producers have been scrambling to meet urgent hospital demand. But as the death toll rises, the machines, which help pump oxygen into the lungs of critically ill patients, remain in short supply.
When the pandemic broke out, “we were discussing and brainstorming any way we could contribute,” said Paula Collins, one of the physicists leading the project at the European Organization for Nuclear Science, or CERN.
She said they were amazed to discover that the systems they use to monitor gas flows in their experiments matched some of the requirements for a ventilator.
Collins works on the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment project, which explores what happened after the Big Bang that allowed matter to survive and build the universe we know today.