Lebanon Businessnews News

Several local groups
to produce ventilators
Businesspeople, physicians

and universities join hands

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Several teams of businesspeople plan, each independently, to manufacture medical ventilators locally. Each of these teams is collaborating with doctors and universities in the design and the preparation of the prototypes.

The aim is to provide an additional ventilator supply in case the available quantity of this equipment cannot cope with the number of patients if the coronavirus pandemic escalates dramatically.

The teams say they do not intend to generate profit.

Industrialist Paul Abi Nasr, CEO of Polytextile, said that there are teams working on the regular ventilator which could meet the needs of coronavirus patients while other groups are working on Ambu bags which could provide temporary relief.

The teams that are preparing to manufacture the device include, among others, Phoenix Machinery, a team led by engineer Hussein Al Hajj Hassan that includes a number of university graduates, a team formed by industrialist Mohamad Tarhini and others, the Abi Nasr team that includes industrialist Ziad Boustany and other businesspeople.

Tarhini said they have completed the prototype and they are ready to test it on the ground. He said they are collaborating with the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Abi Nasr said they have joined forces with doctors, engineers, AUB, and the Lebanese American University (LAU), to make sure quality standards are met. He said they have completed the design work and are now developing the prototype. He said some of the components are not available and that they must be imported as soon as possible or a substitute must be manufactured locally even if this means that the ventilator will not necessarily be very advanced.

Phoenix Machinery is currently working on the prototype, said Rabih Osta General Manager of the Phoenix companies that are part of INDEVCO Group.

Osta said that other manufacturers have expressed their readiness to support them by providing human resources to help in the assembly of the ventilator. About half of the spare parts could be manufactured locally and the rest will be imported, he said.

Work on the prototype could be completed in a week or a little more, Osta said.

The Hajj Hassan team is also working on the prototype. The team was contacted by a large number of people showing their readiness to help.

The average cost of an imported intensive care ventilator is $30,000 per unit. There is a worldwide shortage of ventilators. Informal capital controls have also limited the ability to import the machines.

The local production cost will depend on the type of ventilator produced. Some older design units are mechanical and are much less costly than modern digital units. The units developed by Abi Nasr are expected to come under $2,000 and are specific to support needed for coronavirus patients. Other groups are still in the process of determining cost. “We will have an idea once a successful prototype has been developed,” Osta said
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
Date Posted: Mar 19, 2020
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