Saudi Arabia to build 6,000 ventilators a year to save COVID-19 patients

Saudi Arabia has launched the first ventilator manufactured in the Kingdom in a boost to hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

The Puritan Bennett (PB) 560 portable ventilator was in Riyadh-based Rowad Technology. The firm aims to make about 6;000 of the devices a year.

American-Irish medical technology company Medtronic designed and built the original PB 560.

As the pandemic escalated in March 2020 there was a global shortage of ventilators and Medtronic; took the unusual step of sharing the design specifications; and software code for the device to enable others companies around the world to manufacture their own versions.

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef; said the device met international specifications and had been “manufactured with pride in Saudi Arabia.”

“This important step comes at a time when the world is facing great challenges due to the continuing repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic; and the effects it has on daily supply chains and basic supplies; especially in the field of health care;” Alkhorayef said.

Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the manufacture of ventilators will contribute to combating the pandemic due to the constant need for the devices in hospitals.

He said the medical technology industry is one of the most complex and further advanced and that his ministry was working with national companies to localize production of medical devices.

The National Center for Industrial Development said Rowad Technology had obtained approval from the Food and Drug Authority to manufacture the PB 560.

Nine companies submitted prototypes; but Rowad had the permission to go ahead. About 50 employees will work on the project.

“This agreement demonstrates the extent of global confidence in the Saudi market;” the center also said.

The PB 560 is compact and lightweight making it ideal for health care centers and can also be used at home.