Dyson, Airbus, McLaren and Nissan are among a raft of manufacturers ready to begin mass producing ventilators, which have seen unprecedented demand worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for an industry-lead national effort to combat the virus crisis, including the rapid mass production of ventilators required to treat the worst affected patients.
As of the start of this week, the UK had access to 8,175 ventilators, including 691 from private hospitals and a small number from the Ministry of Defence, and Johnson wants to boost this total to 30,000.
Manufacturers have been working on a variety of different ventilator designs, and a consortium of more than a dozen companies aims to build ventilators based on two existing designs. This week, the UK Government is expected to choose the design most suitable for swift mass production and distribution of effective equipment.
Meanwhile, the Government has placed multi-million-pound orders with established specialist suppliers that are able to produce ventilators in small batches, and the Scottish Government has ordered 300 of these. One such manufacturer, Crawley-based Inspiration Healthcare, has taken more than £5 million in orders from the NHS.
A spokesperson for Dyson said it is attempting to develop a “meaningful and timely response”. They added: “This is a highly complex project being undertaken in an extremely challenging timeframe.
“We’re conducting a fully regulated medical device development, including testing in the laboratory and in humans, and we are scaling up for volume.”
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The Cabinet Office is managing procurement of ventilators under the oversight of chief commercial officer Gareth Rhys Williams, while the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial strategy is fielding offers of help from UK companies. The ventilator designs will be vetted by Department for Health and Social Care (DHCS).
As of 9am on the 24th of March, 8,077 people in the UK were confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19, with 422 these patients dying from the virus.