Defence to increase national ventilator capacity

A new Defence-led Rapid Response Group has been established to increase domestic stocks of invasive ventilators as part of Australia’s response to COVID-19.

The group seeks to identify a prototype using an experimental approach that provides a non-invasive to invasive conversion solution to be applied to all non-invasive ventilators used in Australian hospitals.

If the prototype is successfully identified and tested, Defence will engage with industry to produce components and consumables for the conversion kits. Other medical machines will also be considered for re-purposing into invasive ventilators.

Defence minister Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said increasing ventilator capacity was a priority due to potential constraints to international supplies.

“Defence is able to coordinate the activities between public and private stakeholders, by harnessing Defence Science and Technology’s capabilities and facilities, and utilising existing expertise in specialist research engineering and technology development,” she said.

The group is led by Professor Tanya Monro, Chief Defence Scientist, and consists of Commonwealth, state and territory representatives, as well as key industry and university experts.

Industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews said the group would feed into the work by the federal government to increase Australia’s available stock of ventilators.

“We are bringing together the best and brightest minds across a range of areas to ensure we can meet the challenge of this unprecedented pandemic,” she said.

“This group led by Professor Monro will support the extensive work that’s already been done to secure and produce more ventilators in Australia, including agreements with local manufacturers ResMed and Grey Innovation.

“We have already witnessed the power of bringing together local manufacturers and clinicians, with an agreement reached for Grey Innovation to lead a group of Aussie companies in making 2,000 invasive ventilators.”