Ford’s partnership with GE Healthcare expects to produce 50,000 simplified ventilators by July 8 to help critically ill coronavirus patients, with cranked-up production of 30,000 per month after that as needed, the companies said in a conference call on Monday.
Ford will rely on a ventilator design from Airon, which is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is currently being produced at a rate of three per day at its Melbourne, Florida factory. Ford and GE Healthcare, which is licensing the design from Airon, will need to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA to produce them at scale at Ford’s Rawsonville components plant in Ypsilanti.
“One of the benefits here…is that we are able to move at speed,” Ford vice president Jim Baumbick said in a conference call on Monday. “The reduction in complexity around this Airon device enables us to move more swiftly given the urgency.”
Ford expects to begin production the week of April 20, and to product 1,500 ventilators in April and 12,000 by the end of May. That’s an extremely fast ramp-up for a complex medical device, however it means that the ventilators will not be available in the quantities needed to help hospitals in hard-hit states like New York that expect to face acute shortages in April.
The Airon ventilator, which operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, currently sells for about $7,000, compared with more complex ventilators which go for $20,000 and up. As states have vied to buy ventilators for their ailing residents, they have bid up prices for those devices to $40,000 or more, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said.-Forbes