Dyson commits to producing 15K ventilators as coronavirus cases climb in the UK

The British vacuum cleaner company Dyson has just announced that it is joining efforts in private industry to manufacture medical ventilators as the world races to defeat the new coronavirus pandemic.

Billionaire James Dyson’s company has designed a new ventilator, and the United Kingdom’s government has ordered 10,000 of the devices, The Hill reported Thursday.

“The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time,” James Dyson wrote in a letter to employees, according to The Hill. “The race is now on to get it into production.”

Dyson joins in the fight

The novel coronavirus has infected hundreds of thousands of people and has killed thousands in nations around the world, according to a John Hopkins University tracker. The pandemic has, critically, left countries rushing to increase their peacetime supplies of critical medical supplies, like ventilators — and now, a number of private companies are stepping in to help.

British billionaire James Dyson said in a letter to employees that his company created a new ventilator, called “CoVent,” in about 10 days after Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson phoned him about the country’s short supply, The Hill reported. The company is set to produce 15,000 of the machines, and the British government has ordered 10,000; Dyson will donate the other 5,000.

“This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently, and at volume,” Dyson wrote in his letter, according to The Hill. A company spokesperson said the devices will hit assembly lines by April, The Hill reported.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, Britain alone had nearly 15,000 cases of COVID-19 and about 760 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. With the numbers continuing to climb, the British government wants to increase its supply of ventilators from 8,000 to 30,000, Fox News reported.

Ford, GM to step in too

Dyson is not the only private company to be enlisted in the war against the coronavirus. On Friday, President Donald Trump threatened to “invoke P,” later explaining that he meant the Defense Production Act, to make Ford and General Motors (GM) help the federal government’s push to replenish its supply of ventilators, according to Reuters. Trump later said that he had indeed invoked the act to pressure GM since the company was “wasting time.”

“Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too great to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course,” Trump said in a statement, according to Fox.

In tweets earlier Friday, Trump excoriated Ford and GM for not working fast enough and alluded to a deal that had fallen through with GM. The company, for its part, insists that they have been working to make ventilators available for over a week, according to Fox.

Trump’s move appeared to be a reversal, as he had mostly been reluctant to fully utilize the Defense Production Act to mobilize the manufacture of medical supplies, insisting that private companies will step up of their own volition. Just a day before, Trump said he doubted that states would need as many ventilators as some of their leaders were requesting, CNBC noted.

Now, it looks like all hands are deck as the coronavirus continues to make its way across the U.S. and around the world. But will these efforts come too little, too late? Only time will tell.

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