VentilatorsWhy It Is So Hard to Produce What’s Needed to Tackle Coronavirus

Published 9 April 2020

Manufacturers are stepping up to meet the severe shortage of ventilators prompted by the current coronavirus pandemic – and not just companies in the medical industry. Numerous firms from the aerospace and defense sectors, and even Formula One, have offered their services. Peter Ogrodnik writes in The Conversation that in the UK, domestic appliance maker Dyson, defense contractor Babcock and the Ventilator Challenge U.K. consortium (including leading firms such as Airbus and Ford) have all received orders to make thousands of new ventilators to meet the government’s target of an extra 30,000. Rather than simply helping scale up production of existing products, these firms are working with designs that have never before been used or tested in real settings. While all efforts are welcome, there are likely to be some major challenges for manufacturers trying to enter the medical devices sector for the first time. Journalists reported with amazement that the first batch of devices from the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium would include just 30 units. But there are some good reasons why novel ventilators can’t simply be turned out in large amounts with just days’ notice.