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General Motors starts production of ventilators for U.S. government

General Motors stated on Tuesday it had started producing ventilators in the volume required to treat severely ill coronavirus patients and would make deliveries of the first batch of the medical equipment to the U.S. government this month.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded nine contracts amounting to almost $2.6 billion to produce 137,000 ventilators by the end of 2020 for the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile, consisting of a contract to the automaker worth $489.4 million for 30,000 ventilators by the end of August after President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act.

Other contracts declared by HHS in recent days include a $646.7 million contract to Philips and others to General Electric, Hill-Rom Holdings, Medtronic Plc , ResMed Inc, Vyaire Medical, Hamilton Medical and Zoll Medical.

Hamilton is getting a $552 million contract for 14,115 ventilators, where as Vyaire is receiving a $407.9 million contract for 22,000 ventilators produced by June 29 and Zoll is receiving a $350.1 million contract for 18,900 ventilators, HHS stated on Monday.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar stated that the contracts will indicate that “we have more capacity to respond to the pandemic as it evolves”.

GM, which is collaborating with ventilator firm Ventec Life Systems to produce the medical equipment, stated it would deliver over 600 ventilators in April.

It added that it expected to fill almost half the order by the end of June and the full order by the end of August. The ventilators will be produced at a plant located in Kokomo, Indiana.

White House adviser Peter Navarro stated as these lifesaving ventilators roll off the automaker’s assembly line as fast as tanks once did in World War II, they are going to be rapidly deployed.

The automaker’s shares closed flat. The stock has dropped over 37% this year, as coronavirus has led decline in automobile sales.

About 644,188 people in the US have been confirmed as being infected with the coronavirus. The virus has killed 28,579 people in the country.

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