Ventec is hustling to accelerate its production, adding employees and increasing their hours, he said. In an attempt to prevent the coronavirus from spreading among its staff, Ventec introduced mandatory temperature checks for everyone entering its factory. A janitorial staff works 24 hours a day to sanitize surfaces.
But even with the increased production, the company won’t be able to quickly satisfy the surging demand.
For days, Mr. Kiple said, he has been getting nonstop phone calls from frantic hospital administrators, governor’s offices and other government officials looking for more machines. He’s even received inquiries from a number of wealthy individuals hoping to buy their own personal ventilators, a fallback plan in case the American hospital system buckles.
“I can tell you with a 100 percent confidence that every single manufacturer is facing a backlog right now,” Mr. Kiple said.
European countries — already reeling from tens of thousands of virus-infected patients — are responding forcefully. Some governments are restricting domestic medical supply companies from fulling international orders.
In Germany, where about 25,000 ventilators are now available nationwide, the government ordered 10,000 from a domestic manufacturer, Dräger, to be made over the next year. The company, whose stock has risen more than 50 percent in the last week, said it was rushing to fulfill the orders, but faced constraints because of safety testing and the availability of components.
Italy, which has nearly 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 2,100 deaths, is perhaps facing the gravest shortage of ventilators. In the Northeast region of Veneto, officials are looking into whether ventilators designed for animals can be used on humans, local media reported.