ResMed CEO Mick Farrell said Wednesday that his company has been ramping up production of ventilators for the last 90 days, trying to meet surging global demand as countries battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ventilators most in-demand for COVID-19 treatment push air and oxygen into and out of a person’s lungs through tubes inserted through their mouth and trachea. They can help patients survive and recover from respiratory failure caused by the virus.
To help address a shortfall amid the global emergency, ResMed is seeking production help with some of the 500 components which go into its more sophisticated ventilators. The company is fielding offers for assistance from some of the world’s largest automotive, aerospace and defense companies, including Tesla, Farrell said on CNBC’s “Mad Money”.
ResMed made tens of thousands of its high-end ventilators in 2019, and is aiming to double or triple that in the next year, and to get those ventilators to hospitals in Singapore, Italy and the U.S. The CEO said his company is in talks with FEMA to expedite delivery of the ventilators to U.S. hospitals.
“Mad Money” host Jim Cramer asked Farrell, “Have you been in contact with the legendary Elon Musk?”
Farrell said, “We’ve had offers from Tesla, from many other automotive manufacturers, from some of the biggest aerospace companies in the world and defense companies that can help with o-rings, screens, and screws.” He noted that ResMed could use Tesla’s help with lithium ion batteries, but didn’t say if the companies had discussed plans to collaborate on those.
He also praised the Tesla and SpaceX CEO for buying and distributing lower-end ResMed BiPAP machines, which the company markets as “non-invasive ventilators,” to hospitals in New York that wanted them:
“I think it’s great what Elon did,” Farrell said.
“He went up and bought what I would call bi-level, non-invasive ventilators from a platform of ours from 5 years ago, from Asia, and brought 1,000 of them over to New York…If there’s product out there and you can move that for us, that’s fantastic.”
Musk recently said to his nearly 33 million Twitter followers that he and Tesla have procured “1,255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators,” from an un-named source in China, which he said he planned to donate.
This week, he added:
“We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse.”
Hospitals seeking ventilators for COVID-19 patients are typically looking for their higher-end “invasive ventilators,” not CPAP or Bi-PAP machines like Tesla purchased.
That’s because, as NPR recently reported: “Ventilators require a breathing tube and operate as closed systems with a filter that traps any pathogens. Face masks generally used on CPAPs or BiPAPs allow air to escape, pumping the virus into the surroundings and potentially infecting other patients, caregivers or anyone nearby.”
In early March, Musk wrote on Twitter that the “panic” over the novel coronavirus was “dumb.”
He also compared COVID-19 to the common cold, and incorrectly stated that children are “essentially immune” to the virus, confusing asymptomatic children with those who have developed antibodies to fight the virus.
Still, Cramer said, “Anybody who gives anything is OK with me!”