Cumbrian oil services firm ‘ready to make 2,000 ventilators a week’
A Cumbria-based offshore oil and gas services company has said it is ready to produce 2,000 ventilators a week to join the national effort to produce tens of thousands of machines to treat coronavirus patients.
James Fisher & Sons said it had sent a base model of its non-invasive InVicto system to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for testing. If approved, the company said it could produce 2,000 a week.
The James Fisher ventilators are not designed for intensive care use, but the company said they can be used to relieve pressure on ICU beds by providing breathing support in “pre-critical temporary wards or care homes”.
The Barrow-in-Furness company normally maintains and supports offshore and subsea oil and gas operations and has experience in making breathing aids for divers.
Eoghan O’Lionaird, its chief executive, said: “Our extensive experience in breathing gas reclaim systems for the offshore diving industry, gives us a unique perspective into how best to deliver oxygen to patients safely, effectively and efficiently. Our new InVicto ventilator does this, not only helping to save lives but also preserving crucial oxygen reserves at a time when global supplies are under considerable strain.”
James Fisher is the latest in a string of companies to answer Boris Johnson’s call for companies to urgently design and produce new ventilators.
Defence contractor Babcock said on Monday it will manufacture 10,000 such machines. Dyson, the manufacturing firm run by billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson, has received a UK government order for 10,000. Both devices still have to pass stringent MHRA tests before they can be accepted for medical use.
Ventilator Challenge UK, a consortium including more than a dozen engineering firms, has an order for 15,000. It expected to deliver 30 this week, but could take until early next month to reach its 1,500-a-week peak production target.
A ventilator is a machine that helps a person breathe by getting oxygen into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide.
The Mercedes Formula 1 team said on Tuesday it will this week begin delivering up to 10,000 breathing devices to the NHS, as part of F1’s Project Pitlane effort. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, which help coronavirus patients breathe more easily but are not ventilators, were developed by Mercedes engineers in partnership with University College London and doctors at its linked hospital.
The devices are being produced at a rate of 1,000 a day at the Mercedes factory in Brixworth, Northamptonshire. The entire facility has been repurposed to produce the CPAP devices, with 40 machines that would normally produce F1 pistons and turbochargers dedicated to the rollout.