Vyaire Medical, a Mettawa, Ill.-headquartered ventilator manufacturer, is working to expand its production “beyond a factor of 10 times.”
A company spokesman said today that marshaling manufacturers around the country to make ventilators through the Defense Production Act isn’t the answer.
Instituting the Defense Production Act to manufacture ventilators is not a good idea because the components for ventilator assembly such as electrical circuits that run the ventilators are in finite supply, said Cheston Turbyfill, Vyaire vice president of communications. If the DPA is used to convert other factories into ventilator factories, “we’d all just be competing over the same supply.”
The company, which employs over 3,000 worldwide and which only makes respiratory medical devices, manufactures 10 ventilator products that would be useful for COVID-19 patients in its Palm Springs, Calif., factory and produces ventilator masks, tubes and filters in a factory in Mexicali, Mexico, just across the border from California, Turbyfill said.
Turbyfill said the company historically made between 1,000 and 1,700 ventilators annually to meet global demand. Vyaire quickly doubled its capacity in early February in response to the coronavirus outbreak, and has been in conversations with federal and state authorities and its customers about ways to grow that production exponentially—from increased hiring to adding more production lines to opening up its supply chain for components made in Asia, he said.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during today’s daily COVID-19 briefing that he spoke with President Donald Trump about the need for more ventilators. Pritzker said he called on Trump to use the Defense Production Act, which the president has already invoked but not used. Trump was “responsive,” Pritzker said, but “didn’t so much like the idea of invoking the Defense Production Act, but he did say, ‘What do you need? Let me see if I can get that for you.’ ”
Vyaire spokesman Turbyfill said its conversations with the federal government and states, including Illinois, have focused on what Vyaire needs to be able to increase its own production. While a typical ventilator assembly takes between two to six days, he said, the emphasis now is in getting enough components to ramp up production of both ventilators and associated products.
The supply of ventilators, he said, is only the tip of the iceberg.
“There’s the masks, tubes, filters and other items that must get changed out on each patient; there’ll be a vast need for (those),” Turbyfill said. Vyaire makes those components as well, for its ventilators and for other ventilator companies, and it is ramping up that production.