Elon Musk

Following up his Twitter discussion on Tesla and SpaceX producing ventilators, Elon Musk today confirmed via tweets, that both his companies are indeed working on ventilators. And that, even though he thinks they would probably not be required.

A Twitter user asked Musk whether existing engineers in Tesla working on HEPA filters or SpaceX engineers who have been working on the Crew Dragon could be deployed to making ventilators. To this Musk replied, “Yes, we’re working on ventilators, even though I think they probably won’t be needed”.

While that confirms that the company is indeed working on ventilators, it is unclear as to which employees are actually being deployed to the task. Tesla has already suspended production at its Fremont, California factory after a rather controversial debate on the same. Tesla does have other factories in Buffalo, New York, Sparks, Nevada and Shanghai and could be developing these ventilators there. SpaceX has a manufacturing facility in California as well.

Another user asked if a single large ventilator could be used to server multiple patients. To this, Musk responded that while this could work, it would be ideal to have separate ventilators to avoid cross-flow.

Even if Musk is making those ventilators, it is difficult to say how early he can get them to the market. There will be obvious requirement of medical personnel in the process and FDA approval will be required for these ventilators. However, considering that a lot of automakers are potentially thinking of making these, including the likes of GM and Ford, the FDA may come out with a speedy approval process for such temporary, make-shift ventilators.

This entire ventilator conversation started yesterday, when the editor of a media outlet questioned Musk on whether Tesla could make ventilators. He responded by saying that Tesla would, if there is a shortage.

The conversation however became serious when New York City mayor Bill de Blasio registered a plea to Elon Musk via Twitter itself, asking him make those as there is “drastic shortage” of ventilators in the United States. He further added, “we will need thousands in this city over the next few weeks. We’re getting them as fast as we can but we could use your help! We’re reaching out to you directly.”