Fitbit's COVID-19 ventilator gets emergency FDA approval

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
covid-19 tech

Fitbit is one step closer to putting its Flow ventilator into use during the pandemic. The FDA has given Fitbit an Emergency Use Authorization for the Flow to help with severe COVID-19 cases. It still doesn’t have customers lined up, but it’s “in talks” with US government agencies to gauge needs and hopes to work with aid organizations worldwide.

The Flow is pitched as a blend of advanced sensors and alerts with a simple-to-use interface that won’t require specialized operators. It also meets the “same lower price range” as other emergency ventilators, Fitbit said. The company is betting that its production advantages in making activity trackers will give it an edge.

While this could prove helpful, there are a number of obstacles before Fitbit might put these into use. Aside from needing to secure customers, Fitbit is relatively late. It’s not clear how much demand there will be for another ventilator manufacturer, whether or not there is a second wave of COVID-19 cases. The evolving understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus might also reduce demand for ventilators as researchers focus on other ways of saving patients. The Flow could prove important, but only if the circumstances are right.