Trade and Industry Minister Ibrahim Patel. File picture: Bheki Radebe/African News Agency (ANA)
Trade and Industry Minister Ibrahim Patel. File picture: Bheki Radebe/African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19 in SA: R250m spent on making 20 000 ventilators during lockdown

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Dec 18, 2020

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Cape Town - The government spent R250 million to have 20 000 ventilators produced as part of the National Ventilator Project (NVP) during the National State of Disaster.

Trade and Industry Minister Ibrahim Patel said this when responding to parliamentary questions from EFF MP Floyd Shivambu, who enquired about the total number of ventilators produced in the country this year for Covid-19 patients.

Shivambu also wanted to know the names of the manufacturers, the total cost of each ventilator and whether they were tested.

In his written response, Patel said the ventilators were produced by the state-owned Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the South African Ventilator Emergency Project (Save-P), a consortium of companies.

"Production began in July 2020 and the final units were completed during November 2020," he said.

In April, Patel initiated the National Ventilator Project with Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande.

Patel said the 20 000 ventilator units produced included 18000 Venturi-type continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices manufactured through a contract with the CSIR, and 2 000 blender-type CPAP devices manufactured by SAVE-P.

He also said the CSIR ventilator systems were assembled and packaged by Akacia Medical in the Western Cape.

"Individual components for the CPAP-ventilator were manufactured by a consortium of industry partners in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, including the Central University of Technology and firms such as Black Capital Systems, Andani Futuretech Manufacturing, UV Tooling, Sola Medical, Gabler Medical and Pitchline Engineering."

Patel also said the Save-P consortium consisted of MCR Manufacturing, Reef Engineering, Bosch, Executive Engineering, Rhomberg Instruments, Dowclay Products, ISO Health SA, Pegasus Steel, NAACAM, AFRIT, Corruseal, New Age Medical Supplies, Aveti and Non-Ferrous Metal Works.

“The development, production and procurement costs for the 20 000 units were funded through a R250 million donation from the Solidarity Fund, at an average cost of R12 500 per unit."

He stated that the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (Sarao) was appointed to manage the national effort to design, develop and produce the respiratory ventilators to support the government’s response to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Patel said Sarao had performed qualification reviews of both the CSIR and SAVE-P devices.

"Both devices were approved by SAHPRA on June 26. Clinical trials of both devices were conducted at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital on behalf of the SARAO, with a further clinical trial conducted at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital under the supervision of the National Department of Health."

He also said quality control for each unit produced was performed by the final assemblers, under the supervision of the SARAO, who have conducted unit inspections to ensure that units produced meet approved specification.

Political Bureau

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