Tesla’s Donation of 1,000+ ‘Ventilators’ Won’t Help Critically Ill Patients

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Last week Tesla Inc's chief executive officer Mr. Elon Musk announced that he had acquired more than 1,255 ventilators approved by the Federal Drug Administration and sent these to Los Angeles. Then, Tesla also donated ventilators to New York City and State, to help America's current epicenter of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Well, now it's looking as if there's more to the entire deal than previously reported according to statements made by ResMed corporation's head. As per the details, while the 'ventilators' donated by Tesla and its top executive have indeed been approved by the FDA for use by coronavirus patients, they are not the equipment that is desperately needed by hospitals in this time of crisis.

Tesla And Elon Musk's Ventilator Donations Are Bi-PAP Machines Designed To Be Used By Sleep Apnea Patients

The details shared by ResMed's chief executive officer Mick Farell on Mad Money highlight that the machines were designed five years back and are non-invasive. These machines, referred to as Bi-PAP, are intended for use by patients with sleep apnea, minor cases of pneumonia and other illnesses in which the end-user can benefit from their breathing aided by a machine. The Bi-PAP machines use a face mask to deliver air to the user -  a design principle different from machines used in intensive care units by patients with the coronavirus.

Coronavirus patients in intensive care require air to be delivered directly in their lungs, which is something that the Bi-PAP machines can not achieve even after modifications have been made - a fact that Mr. Farell confirmed in his interview yesterday.  Some investigation into the matter conducted by Los Angeles TImes' Russ Mitchell confirms that the breathing equipment hospitals are currently facing shortages of include invasive ventilators; the kind not delivered by Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) or Elon Musk.

Breathing Machines Donated By Tesla Might Still Help Patients In Early Stages Of Coronavirus

The reason why invasive ventilators such as the one pictured above are essential in hospitals' fight against the coronavirus is the fact that they help a critically ill patient breathe at a time when the lungs are filled with fluid - as is the case in extreme cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The fact that these ventilators' tubes go inside a patient's pulmonary system also helps medical attendants and caretakers, since it ensures that the infection is contained within the lungs and does not spread in the surrounding environment.

As opposed to this, breathing machines like the ones donated by Tesla have the potential to contaminate the surrounding environment with the coronavirus. This is because their tubes do not go inside a patient's lungs, with the consistent interaction of the patient's breath with the face-mask making the surrounding environment highly susceptible to carry the coronavirus.

Yet, and as ResMed's chief also suggested during his interview, the Bi-PAP machines can be used by coronavirus patients, and have in fact aided professionals in managing early-stage cases of the disease in Europe and China. As Mr. Farell stated:

If we catch you early on a non-invasive ventilator or early enough on an invasive ventilator, survival rates can improve. - Mad Money with Jim Cramer.

Keeping in line with the current shortage of medical equipment, the FDA approved the use of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) devices, Bi-PAP machines, portable oxygen generators used by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and nasal cannulae hoses for use as ventilators in hospitals during this time of crisis.

While Tesla's C.E.O. has commented publicly on his talks with Medtronic Plc for manufacturing ventilators, no official details for the deal have come forward. Tesla has been active in aiding medical staff and authorities in dealing with the coronavirus, and the company's latest effort in the arena is allocating more than 100,000-square-feet of warehousing space for emergency response medical suppliers in Storey County, Nevada.