Elon Musk has made good on his promise to help get more medical ventilators to hospitals in California to treat patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. In its advanced stages, the COVID-19 can make it difficult for people with the disease to breathe. The ventilators help by forcing air into their lungs when they can’t do so on their own.
Ventilators are standard equipment in many medical situations. If you have had a medical procedure that requires a general anesthetic, a ventilator helped you breathe while you were under sedation. The problem today is so many people are being treated for the serious viral infection cause by COVID-19, there aren’t enough ventilators to go around. Usually, a major hospital might need several dozen on any given day. Suddenly, they need hundreds and those who don’t have access to them might die from respiratory failure.
Yup, China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night & airshipped them to LA. If you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2020
Musk publicly thanked Tesla staff and customs officials in China and Los Angeles for their assistance.
The latest predictions from public health officials say California alone will need 50,000 more critical care hospital beds than it has at present to meet the soaring numbers of desperately ill people as the pandemic spreads, Governor Gavin Newsom said. According to Fortune, Newsom went on to say 1 billion latex gloves and 500 million masks for the health care workers tending to the sick and dying are also needed. “That’s not a typo,” he added. He went on to say six California companies have offered their facilities to manufacture gowns and that he is in conversations with another 25 providers who want to start 3D printing masks for health care workers.
According to a report by Autoblog, General Motors announced on Monday it has formed a partnership with Ventec Life Systems to produce 200,000 Ventec ventilator machines at a GM facility in Kokomo, Indiana. GM says it will source 95 percent of the parts needed to build the machines by tapping its enormous network of parts suppliers.
Elon Musk has been rather dismissive of the coronavirus situation and thinks by the time Tesla starts producing ventilators, the need will have passed. Let’s hope he is correct. One of my colleagues at CleanTechnica, Vijay Govindan, has wondered aloud where the other mega-billionaires are in all this. Mainstream media channels are filled with reports about Musk but there is nary a whisper of super wealthy individuals like Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Mercer, or any of the other luminaries in the constellation of American tech stars lifting a finger to lend a hand in humanity’s time of need. Why is that?