In the last couple of weeks, the government has brought in more than 22 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) from China, as well as over 1,000 ventilators to help support the NHS and social care services, shipped between April 2nd and 25th.
The biggest donor of this medical equipment is Bank of China, which donated more than 1.8 million pieces and 20 ventilators. Other Chinese organisations have also donated equipment, including British Chinese Community Zhejiang UK Association, with Guy’s and St Thomas hospital, and Age UK, receiving supplies.
At the start of the crisis, the UK provided supplies to those in Wuhan, including gloves and goggles, donated by the likes of GSK and AstraZeneca.
British ambassador to China Dame Barbara Woodward said: “I am delighted that we have been able to deliver huge quantities of lifesaving equipment for the NHS and our social care services.
“Our strong trade relationship with our Chinese partners has meant that we have been able to source the right equipment and we have seen both UK and Chinese firms contribute to our joint fight against COVID-19. We are working round the clock to bolster the NHS supplies and save lives and we are seeking further deliveries as a matter of urgency.”
Charity director of Age UK Caroline Abrahams made further comments, saying that the masks have now been donated to local branches of the charity that are providing practical support throughout their communities, including helping those recovering from coronavirus leave hospital and return home, which will help keep older people and staff members safe.
On UK soil, Dyson recently announced that it is now working on the development of a new type of ventilator to help the NHS fight the good fight against coronavirus.
Sir James Dyson said in a statement that the company is now collaborating with the Cambridge-based Technology Partnership on the “highly complex project” that is now underway, which involves testing in laboratories and on people.
Some industry insiders have expressed concerns, however, that this particular approach will take too long and more than a dozen companies have come together to build ventilators based on two designs that are already in existence.
A new ventilator would usually take two to three years to design – and the worry is that the NHS will run out of equipment in a few weeks.
Speaking to the BBC, senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at the University of Glasgow Dr Marion Hersh explained that it is likely to be quicker to recreate established prototypes in order to deal with current demand. She did add, however, that there may well be value in having more than one option in the long run.
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