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From May 2020, we at Defy hope to start producing ventilators to help deal with the Covid-19 crisis in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative forms part of the National Ventilator Project (NVP), as the world battles to keep up with the global demand for ventilators.

South Africa has around 6,000 ventilators available in public and private hospitals; how many are needed for local use is likely to depend on the extent to which the national lockdown, and other measures to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, succeed. South Africa’s national lockdown, which came into effect on 27 March, has been extended till end of April.

With global supply chains facing unprecedented demand, South Africa’s NVP aims to build locally, using parts and materials “that are readily available in large quantities on the commercial market or can be manufactured locally in South Africa”.

South Africa hopes to be building ventilators before the end of April, with a target of manufacturing 10,000 devices by the end of June, with the capacity to build up to 50,000 more if necessary.

Defy, together with key stakeholder partners, is finalising a ventilator design that can be industrialised for mass production. “Led by the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge under the Open Ventilation System Initiative (OVSI), our team of scientists and engineers - including South African researchers - are currently finalising a ventilator design that can be industrialised for mass production,” said Evren Albas, CEO of Defy Appliances.