Ventilator makers ramp up production amid coronavirus crunch

Manufacturers are rushing to boost production of the medical ventilators required to save many critically ill coronavirus patients, with respiratory equipment providers working to meet increased global demand. Even some companies that do not make medical devices may help with production: General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.

Manufacturers are rushing to boost production of the medical ventilators required to save many critically ill coronavirus patients, with respiratory equipment providers working to meet increased global demand. Even some companies that do not make medical devices may help with production: General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have suspended vehicle production in North America until at least March 30 and are exploring the possibility of making ventilators. The added capacity may help to ease the crunch but not quickly enough to match mounting demand, and it may not be sufficient if cases surge. Up to 810,000 U.S. coronavirus patients could need ventilators by the end of May, but a recent report estimated that about 200,000 mechanical ventilators may be available in the United States. If more machines become available, there may not be enough trained professionals to operate them, as one estimate places the maximum number of trained professionals would limit the number of ventilated patients to about 135,000. Hospitals have to wait weeks for new machines because the average turnaround time for new orders is about 8 weeks.