Image credits: Juntos por la Salud
News Article

The First Mexican Ventilator is Officially Here

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 08/11/2020 - 14:05

Mexico Business News attended the official launch of the first Mexican ventilator VSZ-20 during a virtual conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the General Direction of Political Coordination headed by Alberto Uribe Camacho.

Participants from all different sectors who collaborated in the project were introduced and spoke about their work and what this milestone represents for Mexico in healthcare. The first one to share his experience was Novelo Baeza, Federal Commissioner at COFEPRIS, who first thanked David Kershenobich, Guillermo Dominguez Cherit and Fanny Alvarado, which where the medical professionals in charge of tackling this project with their initial ventilator development. “Regulatory measures are a must on every development and this one complies with international quality standards and regulations,” said Novelo Baeza, who also thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affaris for its attention and active response regarding this project and the overall donation of vaccines and drugs for trials, which have been especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the role of regulation during the development of this new device, as well. “Manufacturers must always take regulation and strict measures into consideration because patients depend on mechanical ventilation with quality standards.”

INCMNSZ took an active role on the project, contributing with the original design. The institute has almost eight decades focusing on Mexican health, emphasizing quality and safety in medical care, which is the basis for its strong performance in academic, care and research matters. “Contributing with innovative ideas is part of our philosophy and this drove us to use our capabilities to develop our ventilator, not with profit in mind but as a response to the pandemic,” said Director General of INCMNSZ David Kershenobich. “We had this ventilator, which had been tested on animals. Our biomedical engineering and intensive therapy team saw a lot of potential in it so we made the commitment of scaling the project to contribute to fighting the pandemic.”

Fanny Alvarado, head of the biomedical engineering team developing the ventilator, explained the characteristics of the device. “It does not need an air intake since it pulls it from the environment, it only requires an oxygen intake. It has a universal circuit and charges energy for up to two hours.” Alvarado said that the institute first thought of using MIT’s ventilator guidelines but then decided to develop its own local technology that offers safety and quality.

Mexican company FEMSA explained how it wanted to contribute to successfully face COVID-19 and how the announcement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to collaborate in this project was the perfect chance. Operations Director of FEMSA Salvador Almaguer explained that production for this ventilator was based at the company’s plant Apodaca, which now has the capacity to produce 500 ventilators per week in three shifts. The plant also has the capacity to add more assembly lines in case of higher demand.

Almaguer said the quality protocols were strict and that every device is tested before being packed. About the delivery, he said FEMSA now had 180 ventilators ready for immediate delivery and if an order was placed, it would take them around two weeks to deliver the equipment depending on the number of ventilators needed. “The ventilator is robust and accessible. State-of-the-art ventilators cost around US$50,000 and our price is a fifth of that. We have already been approached by other countries to support them with this ventilator so we already have that in mind,” said Almaguer.

Ramses Galaz and Arnoldo Heredia from GSE Biomedical, a strong supporter during the ventilator’s development, highlighted the importance of training before using the device and how the coalition was already offering those trainings for free. “There are already five ventilators with patients and doctors have been trained in the proper use of the equipment,” said Galaz. This development uses a pneumatic piston then allows to control pressure and volume. “It is considered for hospital use, not for ambulances,” said Heredia.

Guillermo Domínguez Cherit, current Deputy Director of the Critical Medicine Area at INCMNSZ, insisted on the importance of alliances of this sort to achieve better results that can bring a huge benefit to society. “Union of various entities, such as government, academy and companies, generates learning and facilitates these great projects,” he said.

Photo by:   Juntos por la Salud
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst