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Tesla's CEO Elon Musk has announced that the company will hand out free ventilators to hospitals struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Musk tweeted recently that “we have extra FDA-approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free,” he said, adding that the “only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse,” he said, hoping that any Tesla-produced ventilators won’t be snapped up by a state that hasn’t been hit by the virus particularly hard, while other areas struggle with equipment shortages.
The announcement comes a week after Musk revealed that Tesla had bought hundreds of ventilators from China. “China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night and airshipped them to LA,” he wrote on twitter.
The last company that Musk mentioned, Medtronic, is a medical device company based in the United States, who just a few days ago publicly released the specs for a basic ventilator design to assist hospitals that are desperate. The company’s Executive Vice President, Bob White said that the company “recognised the acute need for ventilators as life saving devices in the management of COVID-19 infections… by openly sharing the PB 560 design information, we hope to increase global production of ventilator solutions for the fight against COVID-19.
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom confirmed last week that Musk had delivered on his promise before the official announcement, supplying Californian hospitals with 1,000 ventilators.
The exact number of ventilators that Tesla has acquired is not yet known.
State and Federal governments have approached a number of aerospace companies as well as auto manufacturers to assist in the production of the medical devices. Last week, President Trump ordered one of Tesla’s competitors, General Motors under a wartime act to produce thousands of ventilators for hospitals in need.
By that time, General Motors had confirmed it had been making the medical devices for a number of weeks already with Seattle-based company, Ventec. Supply chain experts quoted by Forbes say “GM’s ability to speed up Ventec’s manufacturing process and dramatically increase its output is a lightning fast turnaround in that amount of time.”
It is said that the collaboration will result in 10,000 ventilators being produced each month by April. President Trump has since criticised the company for delays in production and the company wanting “top dollar”, adding that it is “always a mess with Mary B,” referencing Marry Barra, General Motors’ CEO.
Ford has also come forward and said it will produce 50,000 ventilators within the next 100 days at one of its manufacturing plants in Michigan, working alongside General Electric’s healthcare unit. The company has said it would have a capacity of 30,000 per month one the factory is fully tooled.