Nigerian auto manufacturer Innoson said on Monday that it was ready to convert its assembly lines to start producing critical medical equipment that may be in short supply as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.
A shortage of ventilators and other critical equipment has become a growing concern amidst rising cases of COVID-19 across the world.
“Innoson Motors is ready to assist the government in any way we can, including the likability of converting out lines to produce ventilators and other equipment,” Cornel Osigwe, the company’s spokesperson, told newsmen on Monday, citing his discussion with Innocent Chukwuma, the group’s chairman, on the matter.
“But we need the government or other health institutions to place orders the quantity that may be required before we could take any step,” Mr Osigwe added.
With its disclosure to newsmen, Innoson has joined a growing list of automobile companies who expressed intention to repurpose their manufacturing plants to produce medical equipment across the world.
General Motors and Rolls Royce, major vehicle manufacturers in the United States and United Kingdom, respectively, have publicly disclosed that they could produce ventilators and other equipment.
But while many agreed that it was possible to retool a vehicle assembly line for production of ventilators, some medical equipment experts have warned that it might be several months before any results become useful.
“These are extremely sensitive machines with not only a lot of hardware, but also a lot of software. If one of the components does not work correctly, the whole machine shuts down and cannot be used any more,” Jens Hallek, a medical equipment production expert at Hamilton Medical, said Tuesday morning, Wired Magazine reported.
The Washington Post also reported that the U.S. Department of Defence had warned that it might take more than a year for carmakers or aerospace factories to start making ventilators.
Nigeria recorded its first casualty from coronavirus on Monday morning with the passing of a 67-year-old retired senior official of the state-run NNPC. The sexagenarian was amongst the 36 infections so far recorded in Nigeria since the first case was discovered on February 27, about three months after the virus broke out in China.