The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on April 13 announced five new contracts to obtain additional ventilators for COVID-19 patients under the Defense Production Act (DPA).
The contracts under the DPA are with the companies General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, and Vyaire. The DPA, which was passed in 1950, grants the president the power to expand industrial production of crucial materials or products for national security and other reasons.
The HHS also announced federal contracts with the companies Hamilton and Zoll for further ventilator production.
With the seven new ventilator contracts, totaling about $1.44 billion, the HHS expects that more than 137,000 ventilators will be produced by the end of 2020.
The department also confirmed that 6,190 ventilators will be supplied to the Strategic National Stockpile by May 8. That will increase to 29,510 by June 1 under the DPA.
“President Trump and HHS’s use of the DPA is getting private manufacturers what they need to ramp up ventilator production rapidly,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “We are grateful to the patriotic Americans at companies working around the clock and retooling factories to increase ventilator production.
“The thousands of ventilators delivered to the Strategic National Stockpile starting this month, continuing through the spring and summer, will mean we have more capacity to respond to the pandemic as it evolves.”
“HHS and FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] deployment of ventilators from the stockpile have helped ensure that hospitals in states such as New York have not run out of ventilator capacity while working to save lives.”
President Donald Trump said at a press briefing that the federal government received 1,300 ventilators on April 13.
“We probably will not need them, but we can add them to our stockpile and move them around, should the surge take place and should there be a substantial surge,” he said.
The president later said that any additional ventilators not needed may be directed to help needy states and other countries.
“We’re going to help other countries, we’re going to help states if they need it. We may help some states stockpile,” he said.
There have been more than 610,000 U.S. cases and more than 25,000 U.S. deaths from the CCP virus, also known as novel coronavirus. About 2.94 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted.