Over 1,500 ventilators could be built every week by early May to help battle coronavirus, manufacturers including Dyson and Rolls-Royce claim
- Ventilator Challenge UK aims to make 1,500 ventilators a week by early May
- The group said it had been ordered to provide the NHS with 10,000 machines
- It is thought 30,000 are needed to cope with peak rate of coronavirus infections
- Today 569 people who tested positive for Covid-19 died, bringing total to 2,921
Over 1,500 ventilators a week could be rolling off production lines by May to help in the fight against the coronavirus, a leading manufacturing group has said.
A key consortium which answered the Government’s call to help meet demand for the devices said today it would be ‘scaling up’ production over coming weeks.
They aim to make 1,500 machines a week by the end of the month, the Ventilator Challenge UK group – which includes Dyson and Rolls-Royce – said.
On Monday, the consortium said it received a formal order to provide the NHS with an extra 10,000 ventilators. Currently 8,000 are being used nation-wide.
It is thought at least 30,000 ventilators will be needed to cope during the peak of the pandemic, as manufacturing companies race to build more.
The drive to better equip the NHS comes as 569 people who tested positive for Covid-19 died, bringing the total number of people dying to 2,921.
Over 1,500 ventilators a week could be rolling off production lines by May to help in the fight against the coronavirus (pictured, London Ambulance staff outside ExCeL centre in London)
Under codenames Project Oyster and Project Penguin, the consortium has used its design and building resources to deliver two models in two weeks.
Project Oyster has involved making slight tweaks to an existing design by Oxfordshire-based firm Penlon, aimed at speeding up the assembly process.
The consortium is also lending its muscle to increasing production of a device called the ParaPac ventilator, made by Smiths Medical, under Project Penguin.
Consortium lead Dick Elsy said: ‘To provide some context, Penlon and Smiths ordinarily have combined capacity for between 50 and 60 ventilators per week.
‘However, thanks to the scale and resources of the wider consortium, we are targeting production of at least 1,500 units a week of the Penlon and Smiths models combined within a matter of weeks.’
He added that engineers were working round the clock on what were ‘intricate and highly complex devices’, balancing speed with the need to ensure patients’ safety.
Meanwhile it is hoped the Exovent device, which involves the UK’s Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Warwick Manufacturing Group, will be ready for clinical trials within days, with two hospitals agreeing to help test it.
A key consortium which answered the Government’s call to help meet demand for the devices said today it would be ‘scaling up’ production over coming weeks (pictured, work continues at the ExCeL centre being made into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital)
Self-isolating Boris Johnson, whose Government has vowed 100,000 coronavirus tests a day
It is thought at least 30,000 ventilators will be needed to cope during the peak of the pandemic, as manufacturing companies race to build more (pictured, medical equipment labelled and prepared for use by NHS staff at the ExCeL centre in London)
Once trials are completed, the results will be presented to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which regulates use of all such devices.
Dr Malcolm Coulthard , the leading clinician. said: ‘As soon as we looked into the science and the literature it immediately became apparent that this will allow us to produce less-invasive devices than the conventional units in current use, possibly better for patients’ hearts, at a fraction of the price, using off-the-shelf parts.’
Last month, Dyson said it had received an order from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has coronavirus, to build 10,000 of its own CoVent design.
Production of other existing devices made by firms Diamedica, in Barnstaple, and Breas Medical, in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, have also been scaled up.
Today is the third day in a row that a new one-day high in the number of UK deaths for people who tested positive with Covid-19 has been recorded.
A further 4,244 people were diagnosed with the infection in the past 24 hours, pushing the total number of positive tests to 33,718.
Meanwhile it is hoped the Exovent non-invasive alternative to a hospital ventilator (artist impression above) will be ready for clinical trials within days
The Department of Health statistics mean the UK’s coronavirus death toll has almost quadrupled in six days from just 759 last Friday, March 27.
And the NHS has announced more victims in four days this week (1,693) than in every other day of the outbreak combined up until Sunday, March 29 (1,228).
The true scale of the outbreak is not shown by the Department of Health’s statistics, which cut off at 5pm the day before they are announced.
The Government is being slammed for letting Public Health England try to run testing for the whole country in-house and not pulling in resources from private research institutes, university labs, or more than 40 hospital labs.
The Francis Crick Institute, one of the country’s leading science labs, is beginning testing staff from the local Imperial College London Hospitals NHS Trust.
It said it will be able to manage 500 tests per day by next week and wants to scale up to 2,000 a day for healthcare professionals so they can continue to work.
CEO Sir Paul Nurse said the Government was ‘running out of time’ to get a grip on the widespread testing that the World Health Organization has urged nations to do.
On another tumultuous day of coronavirus developments:
- Business groups say firms have ‘furloughed’ half of their staff with concerns the government’s bailout will need to be massively bigger than thought;
- Overdraft customers will be able to request zero-interest buffers of up to £500 over three months to help ease the financial impact of coronavirus;
- The ONS has revealed costs of cough and cold medication have risen by nearly 11 per cent over the last fortnight, amid fears of profiteering; British Airways will put 36,000 employees – 80 percent of its workforce – on leave after grounding thousands of flights as it attempts to weather the coronavirus storm;
- Spain announced 950 coronavirus deaths yesterday, its highest ever, but the country’s outbreak seems to be slowing down;
- A million people have applied for Universal Credit since March 16 and officials are facing calls to allow people to claim it even if they have £16,000 in savings;
- BMA guidelines have revealed elderly patients should be lower priority than otherwise- healthy younger ones when it comes to rationing ventilators.
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