GM begins mass production of ventilators for U.S. government

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General Motors said on Tuesday it has started mass production of ventilators needed to treat severely sick coronavirus patients and would deliver the first batch of the medical equipment to the U.S. government this month.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded GM a contract worth $489.4 million to make 30,000 ventilators by the end of August.

GM, which is working with ventilator firm Ventec Life Systems to produce the medical equipment, said it will ship more than 600 ventilators in April.

It added that it expects to fill nearly half the order by the end of June and the full order by August-end.

The news drew praise from the Trump administration weeks after the president accused the automaker of dragging its feet.

While Trump criticized GM CEO Mary Barra in March for taking too long to start building the medical devices, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg at the time the company and Ventec were waiting on details from the administration, including how many ventilators were needed. The HHS later awarded GM the first new contract to make the machines to add to the national stockpile.

GM’s one-month sprint to turn one of its auto parts plant into a ventilator production facility prompted Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser tapped to coordinate Defense Production Act matters, to praise the company for moving “swiftly” and “in Trump time” to manufacture the devices for delivery to hospitals in Chicago and elsewhere.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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Saurabh Shukla

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