AGENCIES, New York: Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Wednesday that the company’s factory in Buffalo, New York will open “as soon as humanly possible” to produce ventilators that are in short supply in hospitals in the US.
Musk’s announcement came via Twitter and follows previous statements him outlining plans to either donate ventilators or work to increase production of the critical piece of medical equipment needed for patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19.
Health workers and hospitals are dependent on ventilators to help people breathe and fight the viral infection which till now has no proven treatment.
As of now, besides the announcement by Musk, there are no details of how the operation will be carried out. There’s no indication when the Buffalo plant would reopened or how long it would take to convert a portion of its factory, which is used to produce solar panels. Besides, where will the technical know-how come from for the project which is believed to also involve existing ventilator producers like Medtronic.
Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak told media on Wednesday that it is increasing capacity of its critical care ventilators and partnering with others. Ishrak said the company is open sourcing one its lower end ventilators in less acute situations. These lower end ventilators, which are easier to produce because there are fewer components, can be used as an intermediary step in critical care.
Tesla joins automakers like GM, Ford and FCA who have offered to either donate supplies or offer resources to make more ventilators. Musk has purchased ventilators from China and shipped them to the US for distribution to hospitals in need during the coronavirus.
Musk said on Twitter that “China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night and airshipped them to LA.”
Ford has confirmed that it is working with GE Healthcare to expand production capacity of a ventilator while GM is working with Ventec Life Systems to help increase production of ventilators.