Wanted — 100,000 Ventilators In 13 Days

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Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo stated yesterday that New York expects to need 30,000 ventilators in 14–21 days, and also 140,000 hospital beds. That is when the number crunchers of New York’s health care system expect to reach the apex of coronavirus infections. But you need them ready and installed before that date, 13 days at max, and counting.

Image © Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

New York is ahead of the curve compared to many other states. The growth in NY is huge, but as a percentage of known cases, it is just average. It was #25 among US states on 3/25/2020 and progressed to #38 on 3/28/2020. Not all states are testing as much as NY is testing, however. With less testing, there are more undiscovered cases that are spreading the virus. It’s likely NY has not only the highest number of cases, but probably also one of the highest percentages of discovered cases.

If New York is representative for all of the US, then the US needs 75,000 ventilators in 13 days. Some large states are growing their number of infections faster than New York. Others are not testing as much as New York. For example, Texas is conducting less than 10% of the tests New York is conducting. Thinking about this, the real need for ventilators in 14 days will be higher than a straight extrapolation of the NY figures would suggest.

Now comes the key question. Who is going to produce 100,000 ventilators for the USA before Easter?

Most production is in China. Luckily, China reacted faster and more effectively to the coronavirus threat. But the USA is not the only buyer in the market. Europe needs even more ventilators, and the rest of the world is discovering that the virus didn’t ignore them, whatever the presidents of Brazil and Belarus are saying.

The experiences of China and South Korea teach us that social distancing and shutting down the economy is not enough to contain the pandemic. Testing, testing, and isolation of all people tested positive and all people they contacted is also mandatory for stopping the virus.

The Governor of New York did not sound as if he was willing to consider those kinds of measures. Without them, though, the forecast of 30,000 ventilators and 140,000 hospital beds for coronavirus patients in 14–21 days is likely correct. Only, that will not be the apex. It will just be a point on the curve still climbing to new heights.

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Maarten Vinkhuyzen

Grumpy old man. The best thing I did with my life was raising two kids. Only finished primary education, but when you don’t go to school, you have lots of time to read. I switched from accounting to software development and ended my career as system integrator and architect. My 2007 boss got two electric Lotus Elise cars to show policymakers the future direction of energy and transportation. And I have been looking to replace my diesel cars with electric vehicles ever since. At the end of 2019 I succeeded, I replaced my Twingo diesel for a Zoe fully electric.

Maarten Vinkhuyzen has 280 posts and counting. See all posts by Maarten Vinkhuyzen