Coronavirus News Asia

India’s carmakers enter global ventilator race


In the race to minimize loss of life in the Covid-19 pandemic, carmakers Mahindra Group, Maruti, and Hyundai India have joined other global automobile giants in helping to increase the production of ventilators.

India has the world’s fourth-largest auto industry, after China, the US and Japan, and its top three automakers are joining the ventilator market.

India’s leading carmakers will be churning out ventilators. Image courtesy Mahindra & Mahindra Media Resources

Ventilators are expensive and sophisticated breathing aids needed in the treatment of Covid-19, a disease that affects the lungs. Ventilators for critically ill patients include intubation, inserting tubes into the lungs to enable the patient to inhale oxygen.

A good-quality ventilator can cost between US$5,000 and $50,000, according to Minneapolis-based biotech major Medtronic’s cost guide. The world faces a critical shortage of ventilators, with about 1.2 million coronavirus infections across 204 countries.

How many ventilators are needed worldwide is unclear, with confusion over the true nature of this disease running rampant, as a parallel pandemic. In the US, estimates of how many ventilators are needed range from 75,000 to a cataclysmic-sounding 960,000.

Empowered by its auto industry, India plans to increase output to 50,000 ventilators per month by the end of May, from 5,580 units in March.

The Indian government banned the export of ventilators the day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a 21-day lockdown on March 25 to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) that causes Covid-19.

Some of the world’s leading ventilator makers are partnering with automakers. With their factories shut worldwide because of lockdowns, car companies such as Ford, Jaguar and Honda are morphing into a new role as medical saviors.


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