Fitbit Gets Emergency FDA Approval for a 'Low-Cost' Ventilator Amid Coronavirus

Lizzy Buczak
June 04, 2020 - 1:25 pm
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Fitbit is helping with the fight against coronavirus.

The company, known for its wearable health trackers and smart watches, will design ventilators to ease with the shortage brought out by the imminent health crisis.

The company unveiled Fitbit Flow on Wednesday, an “easy-to-use and low cost” product, which they plan to sell for around $5,000, significantly less than the cost of traditional ventilator, per The Verge.

The product was designed with input from healthcare workers who are working on the frontlines of the pandemic.

It is based on manual resuscitator bags used by paramedics, according to Mashable, and features sensors and controls to monitor a patient’s pressure and oxygen delivery.

The ventilator is by no means a permanent solution. The FDA granted emergency-use authorization so they can only treat patients during the health crisis and should only be used as they await standard ventilators, according to The Verge.

"We know from some conversations that physicians are already trying to work out the ethics in deciding who gets the ventilator and who doesn’t, due to shortage of supply," said Dr. Tony Faranesh, a Fitbit research scientist who helped work on the ventilator told Mashable.

"The goal here is to support life in the event that one’s not available until one might become available,” he added.

The company is committed to producing a “large volume” of devices in the near future, but do not plan on continuing once the health care crisis is over.

"COVID-19 has challenged all of us to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity, and use everything at our disposal to more rapidly develop products that support patients and the healthcare systems caring for them," said Fitbit CEO James Park.

"We saw an opportunity to rally our expertise in advanced sensor development, manufacturing, and our global supply chain to address the critical and ongoing need for emergency ventilators and help make a difference in the fight against this global virus,” Park added.

In April, The Department of Health and Human Services announced the first contract for ventilator production rated under the Defense Production Act, to Detroit's own General Motors.

GM’s contract totals $489.4 million, and it's for 30,000 ventilators to be delivered to the Strategic National Stockpile by the end of August 2020.D

Dyson, NASA, and Tesla have been working to deliver more ventilators to healthcare professionals.

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