Meggitt to lead UK consortium to make ventilators for coronavirus

ICU anaesthesia ventilator workstation in the emergency room in stand by mode.
A intensive care unit ventilator, used to help patients severely ill with coronavirus to breath, in a hospital. (Getty)

Aerospace and defence component manufacturer Meggitt (MGGT.L) said on Thursday 19 March that it was leading a consortium of UK suppliers to “rapidly” develop and produce the ventilators that UK hospitals will need to help severely ill patients with coronavirus.

Meggitt said that it was responding to the UK government’s request for additional medical ventilators, which are used to help patients experiencing respiratory difficulties to breathe.

The UK currently faces a massive shortage in the devices, and dozens of UK-based companies have responded to prime minister Boris Johnson’s requests for manufacturers to help produce tens of thousands of ventilators in less than a fortnight.

“Meggitt is leading a consortium of UK aerospace suppliers working to develop and produce, in large volumes, a ventilator that meets their requirements for a rapidly manufactured ventilator,” the company said on Thursday.

Read more: UK manufacturers to use 3D-printing to build ventilators for NHS

Vauxhall, owned by the French automotive group PSA (UG.PA), and Airbus (AIR.PA) are among the firms who have said they are planning to 3D-print parts for ventilators, while Rolls-Royce (RR.L) and Jaguar Land Rover (TTM) have said they are also willing to assist with production.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has repeatedly said that the UK, which only has around 5,000 ventilators, “cannot make too many” of the machines.

The health ministry said that the country will need 20,000 ventilators “under a reasonable worst case scenario.”

The government has said that it is hoping UK manufacturers will speedily build “basic” ventilators, noting that they would be cheaper and easier to produce than existing models.

Researchers at Imperial College London have warned that, under current trajectories, the spread of coronavirus could severely outstrip the UK’s critical care capacity.

Read more: European stocks gain after ECB launches €750bn coronavirus package

Italy told Siare, the country’s only ventilator manufacturer, to quadruple its monthly production, and even called in the military to help.

Germany last week ordered 10,000 ventilators from Dragerwerk AG (DRW3.DE), the company’s largest order ever.

Meggitt, an engineering firm that specialises in components and sub-systems for the aerospace, defence, and energy sectors, also said on Thursday that its performance in January and February was in line with expectations.

Referencing coronavirus, the company said that the near-term demand outlook for its products and services “continues to evolve and remains uncertain.”

It noted, however, that it had put a “broad range” of measures in place to reduce costs and managed its liquidity over the next few months.

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