BUE's Nanotechnology Centre to participate in Egypt's Breathe initiative to produce 5,000 ventilators

Ahmed Morsy , Saturday 4 Apr 2020

protective mask
A man wearing a protective mask due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), looks on as people celebrate a wedding party on a yacht along the bank of the Nile rive before the start of a night-time curfew in Cairo, Egypt, 2 April (photo: Reuters)

The British University in Egypt (BUE) said on Saturday that its Nanotechnology Centre will participate in the Egyptian initiative ‘Breathe’ to produce 5,000 ventilators.

"Professor Amal El-Kasry and Professor Ehab Adly, representatives of BUE's Nanotechnology Centre, will act as the scientific advisers of the initiative," the BUE said in a statement, adding that the move aims at boosting the capabilities of the health sector to fight the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

The Dublin-based company Medtronic announced last week that it would publicly share the design specifications for one of its ventilators to allow other firms to produce them rapidly to help fill the shortage caused by the new coronavirus.

Last Monday, the company posted specs for the basic PB 560 ventilator model “to enable participants across industries to evaluate options for rapid ventilator manufacturing to help doctors and patients dealing with COVID-19.”

A day after the announcement by Medtronic, chairman of the Egyptian state-run Holding Company for Metallurgical Industries Medhat Nafei said the company has firms through which it can host the first stage of production, which includes the production of a prototype.

Based on the proposal submitted by Nafei, and a number of interested parties, the ‘Breathe’ initiative was launched to manufacture 5,000 respirators, and working groups were formed that have already started their activities.

The spokesperson for the initiative Robert Boutros told Masrawy that this initiative includes those who are interested in this proposal, including governmental parties, but it is not an entity affiliated with the government.

"A large number of specialists in the field have expressed their desire to participate, and we now have proposals for three respirators, one of which is Medtronic's, and the others are by two companies working on two other designs," Boutros said.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world has shot past 1 million with more than 54,000 fatalities. The speedy spread of the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year, has led to a shortage of critical medical supplies such as ventilators.

Last week, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in TV comments that 5-10 percent of coronavirus patients in Egypt need ventilators.

Egypt's health ministry reported 85 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 1,070.

Since announcing the initiative to manufacture ventilators locally, Nafei said in TV comments on CBC satellite channel last Tuesday that he has received numerous requests and has found teams working on the same project and “will unite these groups to begin immediate implementation.”

Nafei expects that the holding company, which comprises 15 firms, will start mass production of the prototype ventilators in two weeks.

"There are working groups which have already started work and they stated that they have one week to finish producing the prototype. If we assume that the quality and standard tests will end in another week, we can say that after two weeks from now we can have the first prototype ready for mass manufacturing," Nafei said.

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