Regional Coronavirus Upticks Prompt Increased Ventilator Production

While former COVID-19 epicenters are finally experiencing decreased case numbers and a slow movement towards reopening, sudden upticks of cases in places like Florida, Arizona, and Texas have prompted Medtronic and Foxconn to partner up and increase ventilator production.

Foxconn Industrial Internet announced that they’ve completed Medtronic’s quality and regulatory requirements, and can begin the partnership for the increased production of PB560 ventilators. Production will take place at Foxconn’s Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Mount Pleasant, Wis. The two companies plan on making at least 10,000 ventilators over the next year, which will be marketed and sold under the Medtronic name.

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Medtronic also announced that it will make the ventilators’ design specification public in an attempt to ramp up global manufacturing. While only needed for severe cases of COVID-19, ventilators can save countless lives, allowing patients’ lungs to rest while the respiratory illness takes over. Access to a ventilator can be a matter of life or death for thousands of patients who need assistance receiving oxygen on their road to recovery.

The companies plan to achieve their 10,000 ventilator goal by boosting production up to about 1,000 devices per week. “No single company can meet the current demands for ventilators that are critical in the fight against COVID-19. Joining together with Foxconn immediately increases our production capacity to meet the increased demand and creates a flexible manufacturing model for us,” said the SVP and president of Medtronic’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and informatics business, Vafa Jamali.

The PB560 hit the market in 2010, and is currently sold in 35 countries. If global demand dictates a greater need, as second and third waves of COVID-19 may hit prior to vaccine development, Medtronic and Foxconn are confident they can more than double production. Despite positive numbers coming out in some parts of the world, the U.S. still contains a patchwork of hotspots. Many states have a significant number of ventilators on backorder, even if they aren’t currently all being used, in anticipation of future outbreaks and events. The federal government has also been purchasing large numbers of ventilators, stockpiling in case of emergencies down the road.