China's plants churning out thousands of ventilators for world's virus patients

World | 26 Mar 2020 3:28 pm

For countries that are desperately seeking ventilators that may mean the difference between life and death for critical virus patients, Chinese companies are churning them out to meet tens of thousands of orders.

Among them is Beijing Aeonmed Co., which is operating its production lines on three shifts, Bloomberg reports.

Late last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, said the state, which has about 5,000 to 6,000 ventilators, might need 30,000 of them.

In the US, Medtronic said last week it will more than double capacity to manufacture and supply ventilators, "in response to the urgent needs of patients and healthcare systems across the globe.'' Also, Ford Motor said it will work with Ge Healthcare to produce urgent medical equipment.

Overall in the U.S., the Society of Critical Care Medicine estimates that 960,000 patients would need ventilator support due to the virus, but the US only has about 200,000. In Italy, the country with the most number of fatalities from the pandemic, a severe ventilator shortage has forced doctors to triage patients.

“All the ventilator factories in China have reached their maximum capacity, occupied fully by foreign demand,” said Wu Chuanpu, director of supply chain at Vedeng.com, one of the main platforms in China connecting medical equipment suppliers and buyers.

The factories have orders to keep them at full capacity until May, according to Wu. Vedeng is still getting more than 60 to 70 new orders every day, each asking for hundreds or thousands of such machines, he said. Many are from governments.

Ventilators pump oxygen into the lungs and remove carbon dioxide from the body.

The increase in demand for the machines is in stark contrast to their need in normal times. 

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said earlier this month that as of March 3, the main manufacturers delivered about 14,000 non-invasive ventilators and 2,900 invasive ones to Hubei, where the coronavirus outbreak originated. That compares with the nationwide demand for ventilators in 2018 of 14,700, according to Huajing Research.

China is able to supply at least 14,000 non-invasive ventilators in April, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Nikkie Lu, based on what factories supplied Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, in March. She estimated the collective value at US$100 million to US$300 million.-Bloomberg/The Standard


 

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