As expected, Dyson is no longer planning to make ventilator systems for the UK to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.
The company cites the time taken to get medical approval for the new design by TTP in Cambridge which relied manufacturing from a consortium of partners. The lower demand for ventilators in UK hospitals as the outbreak appears to be under control was also cited as a reason. The manufacturing consortium included excavator maker JCB, and founder Sir James Dyson said the company had spent £20m on the development.
The only ventilators to receive approvals from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for manufacturing by a consortium are the ParaPac from Smiths Medical and the EH02 from Penlon, both of which are being made by the UK Ventilator Challenge. So far 250 units have been shipped to hospitals, which is a long way from the 10,000 original order, or the 10,000 order that Dyson said it had received.
The UK government has also changed the way it approves ventilators. Designs now have to be submitted to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to check that the ventilator meets the ‘Ventilator Challenge’ specification released in March. Then it can be submitted to the MHRA for an exemption from regulations for a fast-track approval. The Penlon EH02, although an existing design with a clear supply chain, had to be adapted to meet the specification.
The government’s Cabinet Office said a number of devices are going through the necessary tests for regulatory approval but no decisions had been made.
Dyson said it might look at overseas opportunities for the design but that would take time to evaluate the options. Several of the largest ventilator manufacturers such as Philips and Medtronics have recently released high volume designs for markets around the world, limiting the opportunities.