FitBit planning to build ventilators for COVID-19 patients

According to Fitbit CEO James Park, the company will be shifting their supply chain resources to make emergency ventilators to help treat COVID-19 patients in the Unites States. Fitbit is submitting its technology to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “under an emergency use authorisation” in the coming days.

“There was a lot of concern about the shortage of ventilators and we realized we had expertise already around the supply chain,” said Park.

The ventilators could help bolster the national supply of the medical devices, which is what the U.S. needs right now during this pandemic. The country surpassed every country in the list of most confirmed cases (1.52 million) and deaths (89,932) from the coronavirus.

Hospitals in the U.S. have experienced severe ventilator shortages in March as hospitals rushed to treat the first waves of COVID-19 patients with severe breathing problems. However, some doctors favour less-invasive measures like CPAP devices, and the country has more than enough ventilators right now as many industries have responded to the need. But if cases surge again once the country re-opens, demand for ventilators could increase again.

“FitBit would build the vents to meet the level of demand, both in the United States and in countries around the world. I think one of the advantages for us is that we have the infrastructure and manufacturing capability. We already make 10 million (wearable) devices per year, and we plan to leverage that to make deliver product at whatever volumes are needed,” said Park.

Their emergency use authorisation of Fitbit’s technology allows a medical device or product that hasn’t been officially approved by the FDA to be used to treat a life-threatening disease. A team has already started working on the ventilators after consulting with physicians at Massachusetts General Brigham and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). 

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Park also aims for the ventilators to be the ‘most advanced’ emergency user ventilator available for a ‘lower’ cost. A price hasn’t been determined, but high-end ventilators can cost as much at USD 50,000 (RM217,765).

We’ve also previously reported that Dyson has also been producing ventilators for the U.K., and the Mercedes F1 team is making breathing aids. Petronas and the Ministry of Health is also planning to make breathing aids for Malaysia.


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Dzamira Dzafri