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Bharat Electronics Limited to help with ventilators, but no concrete plans yet, officials say

Last Updated : 27 March 2020, 11:21 IST
Last Updated : 27 March 2020, 11:21 IST
Last Updated : 27 March 2020, 11:21 IST
Last Updated : 27 March 2020, 11:21 IST

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As the country prepares to ramp up the manufacturing of medical ventilators to reduce the mortality rate of coronavirus, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) said it has been approached to provide material support.

A source within the company said that the company had been approached on Thursday by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to help build ventilators.

The move is said to be a bid to increase the number of ventilators on hand in the country. Imports of ventilators, their components and other medical equipment have been disrupted by ongoing international lockdowns due the pandemic. Ventilators are critical for addressing pneumonia, a primary cause for mortality among COVID-19 patients.

However, BEL was quick to quash media reports which have stated that the company will soon be manufacturing ventilators. “This is all premature. There is nothing down on paper yet. It will take a few more days before the company’s involvement becomes clear,” the source said.

Dr A K Singh, the Director General of Life Sciences, DRDO Headquarters, New Delhi, explained that BEL had other companies had been approached because the major Indian manufacturer of ventilators, the Mysuru-based Skanray Technologies Private Ltd, is currently able to only manufacture a peak of 5,000 units per month.

“DRDO had originally developed indigenous ventilator technology about 8-9 years ago. The technology was subsequently transferred to a company in Coimbatore, which was in turn bought out by Skanray Technologies. To enhance the capacity of existing technology and to hasten the process, they approached DRDO, which is now provisioning various critical components, either through alternatives or getting them manufactured through our industrial base, or helping them in tweaking the design. We are holding their hands on this,” Dr Singh told DH.

The DRDO official declined to shed light on the exact number of ventilators to be produced, saying that the Ministry of Health will decide a cap figure. “What I can say is that the numbers will be in the tens of thousands,” he said.

In a statement, Skanray said it is drawing up plans to locally assemble nearly one lakh ventilators in India. According to Dr Singh, Skanray is set to get the order to commence manufacturing within a day or two.

Tata Industries could also partner with Skanray and DRDO to increase production, Dr Singh added.

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Published 27 March 2020, 10:09 IST

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