Elon Musk said earlier this week that he could use his Tesla production plants to create ventilators amid the coronavirus crisis, and the billionaire tech mogul may now be turning in some fast results.
The Tesla founder spoke to CleanTechnica this weekend and said that his company should have more than 1,000 of the specialized medical machines ready by next week, giving a small but very needed boost to hospital systems overwhelmed with patients suffering from COVID-19 effects. The virus is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with existing health conditions, with many needing hospitalization and ultimately ventilators to keep clean oxygen pumping into their lungs.
Musk said they were also working on addressing the shortage of N95 masks, which are needed by medical professionals to prevent transmission of the virus.
“We have 250k N95 masks. Aiming to start distributing those to hospitals tomorrow night,” Musk said. “Should have over 1000 ventilators by next week.”
This came just two days after Musk wrote on Twitter that he was prepared to turn his car company’s factories into ventilator production plants to help address the worldwide crisis. Musk noted in Twitter exchanges that shifting toward creating ventilators would not be too difficult of a task given that Tesla automobiles use a similar system for pumping air throughout the vehicle.
Some other major American automakers have been exploring turning their own production plants to making generators, with General Motors and Ford both in talks with the White House about the shortage. Existing makers of ventilators are already overwhelmed with the demand from across the world. As Wired reported, one small California company that normally sells 50 in a month has received orders of 2,000 from Italy and another 500 from California.
But even that level of production would not be enough to start addressing the crisis ahead, the report said.
“Some estimates suggest demand for ventilators may quickly overwhelm US hospitals’ supply, which includes about 160,000 machines, plus 12,000 more in federal reserves, according to a recent tally by Johns Hopkins researchers,” the report noted. “Not all of those machines are suited to critical care and, of course, many of them are already in use by people with other respiratory conditions.”
Medical experts have called for social distancing in the hopes of mitigating the spread of the coronavirus, recommending people stay inside their homes as much as possible to slow the spread and prevent hospital systems from becoming overwhelmed.