South Africa plans to build 10,000 new coronavirus ventilators by the end of June

The South African Government has just put out an urgent call for proposals (CFP) for the design, development, production, and procurement of ventilators, as part of the local effort to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an explanatory note, the Department of Trade and Industry said that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has placed a severe burden on the national health care system and has resulted in shortages of medical supplies and equipment.

“One of the identified shortages is the availability of ventilation systems appropriate for the treatment of the majority of patients presenting at health facilities,” it said.

“The National Ventilator Project (NVP) was launched in an attempt to rapidly develop and produce ventilation solutions for the pandemic.”

According to the CFP, the minimum production targets for the project are as follows:

  • Start production as soon as possible (latest end of April 2020);
  • Providing a minimum of 1,500 units by the end of May 2020;
  • Providing a minimum of 10,000 units by end of June 2020;
  • Ability to scale manufacturing to 50,000 units or more if required.

Government-owned defence company Denel has already indicated that it will assist with the project as it shifts focus towards manufacturing ventilators.

Danie du Toit, group chief executive of Denel, said that engineers are already working around the clock on the initiative.

“We are still in the early stages of the project, but we are optimistic that this local initiative will help to alleviate the dire need for medical ventilators that are required in great numbers at both public and private hospitals,” he said.

“We are proud to respond immediately and positively to a request from the Department of Public Enterprises to drive the ventilator project.”

Du Toit added that a task team has been formed consisting of experts from Denel, Armscor, Eskom, the CSIR and other entities to investigate designs and produce a prototype of a local medical ventilator.

“Through Project Sabela we are now focusing all our efforts on the current medical and humanitarian crisis facing South Africa and the world,” he said.

“We are confident that we will soon make huge strides in the development of locally-designed ventilators at a time when global shortages are experienced.”

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South Africa plans to build 10,000 new coronavirus ventilators by the end of June