Local medical equipment suppliers are soon to build a prototype of a ventilator to treat COVID-19 patients, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said yesterday.
Funding for the Ministry of Economic Affairs initiative is estimated at NT$50 million (US$1.67 million), which would come from the government’s expanded special budget that provides the ministry with an additional NT$77.44 billion, a report submitted to the legislature’s Finance Committee showed.
The ventilator, to be used for treating COVID-19 patients in a serious or critical condition, would be developed by local manufacturers based on a design by US medical device company Medtronic PLC, Shen told reporters prior to a committee meeting in Taipei.
Seeking to help nations combat the coronavirus, Medtronic last month publicly shared the design specifications of its Puritan Bennett 560 (PB560), a ventilator suited for a rapid manufacturing process.
“About 100 samples are to be built shortly, which would then be tested and certified,” Shen said, declining to give a more detailed time line.
Demand for ventilators for critically ill patients is high amid the global spread of the disease, making the domestic production of the devices an imminent need, as most manufacturers are in Europe and the US, Shen said.
Taiwanese manufacturers mainly produce positive-pressure ventilators for people with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, while ventilators for critically ill patients are imported.
The project is headed by the government-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute (工研院), the ministry said.
“Our engineers are working on building a prototype along with local companies specializing in machinery sensors and components, as well as systems integration,” an institute official told the Taipei Times by telephone.
The official declined to confirm whether the ventilators would be based on Medtronic’s PB560.
The institute expects to hold a news conference next week to showcase the prototype, the official said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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