Coronavirus: Ventilator Manufacturers Not Ramping Up Production — Yet

ventilator (Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr / CC / Cropped

American companies that manufacture ventilators are not yet ramping up production in anticipation of an influx of coronavirus patients — at least, not yet — but several told Breitbart News on Friday that they could do so quickly.

“There may be a surge in demand. It hasn’t happened yet,” said Eli Crawford, sales manager at Allied Health Care Products, Inc., in St. Louis.

Experts are worried that ventilators could be in short supply if patients start showing up in large numbers with respiratory problems. The Washington Post reported Friday that the country’s supply could be enough — or not:

In a report last month, the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins estimated the United States has a total of 160,000 ventilators available for patient care (with at least an additional 8,900 in the national stockpile).

A planning study run by the federal government in 2005 estimated that if the United States were struck with a moderate pandemic like the 1957 influenza, the country would need more than 64,000 ventilators. If we were struck with a severe pandemic like the 1918 Spanish flu, we would need more than 740,000 ventilators — many times more than are available.

There are relatively few companies that produce ventilators, but several are based in the U.S., and they can likely be produced locally if needed in an emergency.

Crawford noted that his company’s ventilators are manufactured in the U.S., with locally-sourced components, meaning the company is largely insulated from possible supply chain disruptions in China.

He also said that production could be ramped up quickly — provided employees were not under quarantine.

He added that there had been increased interest in the company’s products recently, but not new orders — yet.

A spokesperson for ResMed, another manufacturer, told Breitbart News: “We have seen a higher-than-average demand for ventilators in heavily affected areas such as China and South Korea. ResMed is confident it can meet current global demands.”

A GE Healthcare spokesperson said the company was preparing for anticipated demand: “GE has robust business continuity plans, and we are taking steps to increase our manufacturing capacity and output of equipment that is important in the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients, all while ensuring safe operations.”

Individuals cannot purchase ventilator devices directly without a prescription from a doctor.

“In the U.S., individuals can purchase them from home medical equipment (HME) providers or a ResMed hospital distributor partner once they have a doctor’s prescription,” the ResMed spokesperson said.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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