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Health Canada green lights ventilator project

The Mechanical Ventilator Milano project, with a Canadian team led by Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald, reaches critical milestone with Health Canada approval

The Canadian members of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) consortium, including Queen’s University researcher and Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald, have announced Health Canada has given Vexos Inc. authorization for the MVM ventilator to be manufactured in Canada. 

This paves the way for Vexos to manufacture and supply 10,000 ventilators as part of a national effort to treat patients most severely affected by the COVID-19 virus. 

“We are very pleased to receive authorization from Health Canada that will enable manufacturing to begin by Vexos for our order from the federal government for 10,000 ventilators,” says Dr. McDonald. “It has been wonderful to be part of this important humanitarian process where such a dedicated international group, including people from Queen's and the McDonald Institute who have contributed substantially to our team’s efforts and generous donors who have supported us at a critical time in the project.” 

The team of Canadian physicists and engineers played a significant role in the international initiative led by Professor Cristiano Galbiati to create an easy-to-build ventilator that can help treat COVID-19 patients. Their efforts, led in Canada by Dr. McDonald, harnessed the broad talents of the team, many of whom would normally be spending their time working on experiments to solve the mysteries of dark matter. 

The project gained public attention in early April after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the project as one of the key examples of how Canadian researchers were working together to provide effective and creative solutions to supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The team received continuing participation from the lab directors and teams at: 

  • The McDonald Institute - The Canadian hub for astroparticle physics research, uniting researchers, theorists, and technical experts across the country with a central organization based at Queen’s University. 
  • Canadian Nuclear Laboratories - A world leader in developing peaceful and innovative applications from nuclear technology through its expertise in physics, metallurgy, chemistry, biology, safety and engineering. 
  • SNOLAB - A leading underground science facility focused on discovery research in sub-atomic physics, largely neutrino and dark matter physics, but also other interdisciplinary fields using high sensitivity radioisotope assay.   
  • TRIUMF - Canada's national particle accelerator centre. It is one of Canada's premier multidisciplinary big-science laboratories, and is a leading subatomic physics research center internationally.   

“Canada appears to be in the early stages of the predicted second wave of COVID-19 and there is concern this second wave could be more severe,” says Dr. McDonald. “The pandemic has highlighted the need for a stockpile that could become important during a future outbreak, to be deployed where most needed.” 

Learn more about the project on the Research at Queen’s website.