Dyson, Airbus, McLaren making coronavirus ventilators, UK joins EU effort

Chris Burns - Mar 26, 2020, 2:46 pm CDT
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Dyson, Airbus, McLaren making coronavirus ventilators, UK joins EU effort

Manufacturers in the UK expect the government to give them the green light to move their facilities from normal operations to making medical supplies. Dyson is in one group, another group is led by Airbus. Both groups have announced that they have only to be given the go-ahead by the UK government by next week. In separate news, the UK’s ALSO joined the EU effort to ramp up ventilator production worldwide.

Dyson suggested they’d been sent orders from UK government to create 10,000 ventilators of a certain type they call CoVent. They’ve released pictures and specifications for this new sort of ventilator this week, along with a letter from Sir James Dyson himself. According to Dyson, some of these ventilators will be donated, the rest sold.

Dyson suggested via The Guardian that the “race is now on to get it into production,” with 1,000 going to the UK and 4,000 donated to “the international effort to treat COVID-19 patients.” This new ventilator was created with COVID-19 in mind. “This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume,” wrote Dyson. “It is designed to address the specific clinical needs of Covid-19 patients, and it is suited to a variety of clinical settings.”

As of this week, the UK’s NHS had access to just over 8,000 ventilators, but many thousands more are likely needed. According to a source “involved in the procurement process,” via FT, a previous estimate from the government for NHS needs recently jumped from 30k to 60k.

Earlier this week, it seemed that the UK government had declined to join an EU ventilator procurement group. This did not sit well with officials and citizens alike.

But as of this afternoon, the situation seems to have changed. Per a quote sent to Politics Home, the UK government will join the EU scheme.

“Owing to an initial communication problem, the UK did not receive an invitation in time to join in four joint procurements in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister. “As the Commission has confirmed, we are eligible to participate in joint procurements during the transition period, following our departure from the EU earlier this year.”

The change of heart seems to have been due to an email mix-up. Someone lost the invite. Four “initial procurement schemes” have “gone to tender” in the EU’s setup, but the UK government suggests they’ll “consider participating in future procurement schemes on the basis of public health requirements at the time.”

You can see the initial “Rapidly manufactured ventilator system specification” at the official Government UK website now. That was originally published on the 20th of March, 2020.

A call on Thursday, March 26, 2020, confirmed that Airbus would lead the way with the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium. Airbus will be converting some wing production lines to make this manufacturing effort a reality. This consortium will work with designs for ventilators from Smiths Medical, and Penlon. Other members of the consortium include automotive group McLaren and engineering firms Meggitt and GKN.


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