Addressing an urgent need arising from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak and the COVID-19 disease that can result from it, Boston Scientific (BSX 2.66%) is manufacturing a new, relatively inexpensive "ventilator alternative." This product, which is to be branded under the name Coventor, received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization approval last Thursday.

The device can serve as a backup ventilator for patients with significant respiratory difficulties, in situations where a standard ventilator is unavailable or impractical. It is much smaller, and its construction is simpler, than standard ventilators. Roughly the size of a cereal box, it utilizes a mechanical arm that compresses a ventilation bag to deliver air into a patient.


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Boston Scientific told MedTech Dive that it will manufacture 3,000 Coventors initially, with the possibility of scaling this number higher in the likely case that demand proves strong. The company will sell Coventor at cost, with a price point under $1,000. By comparison, standard ventilators can cost in excess of $20,000 apiece. 

A great many countries, such as the U.S., lack enough standard ventilators in their healthcare systems to cope with the sharp increase of advanced-stage COVID-19 patients. Such individuals frequently suffer from severe respiratory problems.

The Coventor technology was developed by researchers and an alumnus at the University of Minnesota. The university said the device's specifications will be made open-source, which will allow other manufacturers to produce it.

"Our hope is that the Coventor will be useful in those clinical settings where traditional ventilators are not available," the University quoted Stephen Richardson, one of the device's designers, as saying.

On Friday, Boston Scientific stock rose by just over 8%, well ahead of the gains of the broader equities market.