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Friday, 5 June 2020

Rising Up to the Global Ventilator Challenge in Amid Covid-19

Rising Up to the Global Ventilator Challenge

How the world's automobile companies stepped up to increase ventilator production by over ten times amid COVID-19.

As of last year, the world’s demand for ventilators could be satisfied with the production of merely 77,000 such machines annually. However, 2020 has witnessed arguably the largest healthcare crisis the modern world has seen, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe; the virus has gone on to infect almost 7 million globally.
The virus’ infection of the lungs has made these ventilators all-the-more important – global demand was expected to be 880,000 ventilators to deal with the pandemic. This meant that traditional producers would be unable to fulfil this demand.
Ventilator Machiene

In order to rise up to this challenge several private companies have pledged their factories, labour, and resources to help expand ventilator production; this has helped expand monthly production by over 10 times in just under two months – a brilliant example of businesses working to help the world.


As of 2019, 77,000 new ventilators were enough to meet global demand; however, COVID-19 meant that the world needed 880,000 new ventilators. 

Traditional producers rapidly expanded production but due to small factories and supply chain restrictions would be unable to exponentially raise output in a matter of weeks. 

Thus, the world turned to other industries which to produce ventilators, and help meet their rising global demand as a result of the pandemic.


Large car companies and military providers have been tasked globally with creating assembly lines to help produce ventilators for COVID-19 patients. 

These companies already have existing production lines with labour at hand, as well as general purpose equipment that can be used for production. 

While this support to ramp up output was much needed, critics suggested tasking an inexperienced industry with producing such equipment may be an unsafe and lengthy process; however, producers say simple quality checks suffice.


At the start of the crisis, India had 40,000 ventilators and was estimated to require 80-100 times of that number to deal with the pandemic. 

Given that India was producing only 2,700 ventilators per month, with a maximum capacity of about 5,500, this task was set to be gargantuan. 

So much so that the DGCI (Drugs Controller General of India) gave an open call on March 23 for anyone wishing to produce ventilators domestically, amid global supply chain issues.


In the first week of April, only two companies, SkanRay and AgVa Healtcare, had submitted designs; both with capacities of a couple thousand per month. 

SkanRay's design was taken up by Bharat Electronics, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., and Mahindra & Mahindra; AgVa's by Maruti. 

This was to raise the output from 2,000 to 30,000 for the former, and 400 to 10,000 for the latter, by June. 

Now, however, production is expected to increase further as 3 firms got the license to a design by NASA.


Ventilator Challenge UK is a consortium of companies in Britain working together to make ventilators; DHL, Ford, Dell, Rolls Royce, Siemens, Microsoft, Airbus UK, and BAE Systems: Britain's military provider. 

A group of companies with different strengths, it is working together to form a complete supply chain. 

Airbus creates the carbon dioxide meter, Ford creates the ventilator box and display screen, McLaren creates the testing equipment, while Siemens makes helps create a workplace with 'physical distancing.


Another wing of the UK's efforts is Formula 1's Project Pitlane; 7 UK-based teams, usually competing on the track, have come together to produce and design over 20,000 ventilators. 

Mercedes, in collaboration with University College London, designed a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) breathing aid in less than 100 hours; it shall help COVID-19 patients breathe when an oxygen mask does not suffice.


Elements of Ferrari's racing department - Scuderia Ferrari - worked side by side with the Italian Institute of Technology to produce the FI5: a low-cost ventilator that can be produced in 5 weeks from scratch. 

Making the plans open to any who want to produce, Ferrari says they have already received enquiries from Italian, Mexican, and American firms with intent to produce.


In March-end, as COVID-19 numbers rose horrifically, Trump forced General Motors to start producing ventilators; they promised equipment for 10,000 ventilators a month in collaboration with Ventec Life Systems Ltd. 

In addition, Ford has taken a simple design created by General Electric and has committed to 50,000 ventilators by July, eventually reaching a rate of 30,000 a month. 

On May 30th NASA announced the creation of a simpler, more affordable ventilator known as VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), allowing 21 companies (including 8 US companies and 3 Indian companies) to manufacture.


Across the world, private industry has shown its crucial role in helping meet public challenges, and in overcoming adversity. 

As a result of these programs, we have seen countries increase their production capacity by over 10 times; a task that would be impossible without collaboration. 

However, as COVID-19 rages on, it is a sigh of relief that nations have begun to bridge the gap in demand and supply for life-saving machinery.

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