Thirty-five companies will contribute to a project that intends to manufacture 15,000 ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, said the chief of one of Mexico’s largest business groups.
Enoch Castellanos, president of the National Chamber for Industrial Transformation (Canacintra), said in an interview that the ventilators will be made from a design developed by Mexican designer Alfredo Bonilla.
A prototype has already been made at Creativika, an innovation center in León, Guanajuato, and is currently being tested by Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) medical personnel.
Once the federal health regulatory agency Cofepris has granted approval for the new ventilator to be used, mass production will commence, Castellanos said.
“We believe that because we’re in the middle of a health emergency, [the permits] will be issued relatively quickly and production will be taking place in the coming weeks,” he said.
The Canacintra chief said that the 35 companies participating in the ventilator project will provide different parts for their manufacture.
“Having so many companies from so many sectors as members of Canacintra allows us to form a complete chain of production,” Castellanos said.
Motors for the ventilators, for example, could be donated by Bosch, the German multinational engineering and technology company, while metal components could come from small and medium-sized metal-mechanic businesses, he said. Castellanos added that the donation of the different parts required will help to keep production costs low.
The delivery of 15,000 ventilators to Mexico’s public hospitals will significantly increase the number of the machines they have available to treat Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms.
President López Obrador said in late March that Mexico had about 5,000 ventilators to respond to the coronavirus crisis. About half of the machines are in IMSS hospitals and the other half are in other public hospitals.
However, López Obrador said that the government had authorized the purchase of an additional 5,000 ventilators from China.
Half of the new machines are expected to go to hospitals operated by IMSS, which on March 30 asked the Finance Ministry (SHCP) to approve the use of just over 2.2 billion pesos (US $88.9 million) to purchase 2,500 ventilators.
In a letter sent to the SHCP, IMSS director of administration José Antonio Olivarez said that the situation the country is facing due to the growing coronavirus outbreak is “similar in nature to a natural disaster.”
Obtained by the newspaper El Universal, the letter said that IMSS intended to purchase three different brands of ventilators ranging in price from 316,239 pesos (US $12,725) per unit to 1.05 million (US $42,200) pesos per unit.
The acquisition of the new ventilators “will increase the quality and efficiency” of care IMSS hospitals can provide to patients with Covid-19, Olivarez said. The newest ventilators IMSS hospitals are currently using have already been in service for seven years.
Mexico currently has 1,510 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and has recorded 50 deaths, figures much lower than many other countries, but there are fears that the healthcare system will be overwhelmed if social distancing measures don’t succeed in reducing the rate of infection.
Countries such as Italy and Spain have faced critical shortages of ventilators, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned on Thursday that at the rate the state is currently using the life-saving machines, it would not have ventilators available for new Covid-19 patients in six days.