Coronavirus: Elon Must defends sending BiPAP machines to New York hospitals

Mr Musk said hospitals were given 'exact specifications' of the devices and they confirmed 'they would be critical'

Graig Graziosi
Friday 03 April 2020 21:43 BST
Andrew Cuomo says New York state has a 'six day' ventilator stockpile

Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended sending BiPaP machines to a hospital in Queens, New York, rather than the ventilators most hospitals have been requesting.

Mr Musk said that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked for both invasive and noninvasive machines.

The CEO faced criticism online after a photo of his donation revealed that the “ventilators” were actually machines commonly used for sleep apnea. The Financial Times first reported the seeming mix-up.

Some claimed that the machines not invasive enough for efficient use against the virus, and that they could potentially spread the virus by aerosolising it.

However, the US Food and Drug Administration recently cleared both BiPAP and CPAP machines for use as stand-in devices when proper ventilators weren’t available.

“Invasive ventilators are for worst case patients. Survival rate at that point is low, as Gov Cuomo has pointed out. Nonetheless, we start delivery of intratracheal Medtronic units in NYC tonight,” Mr Musk said.

He said that each of the hospitals he was donating to were given “exact specifications” of the machines and that each “confirmed they would be critical.”

Mr Musk sent both invasive and noninvasive machines, but it appears the non-invasive BiPAP machines arrived first and garnered the backlash online.

In the first days of the coronavirus, Mr Musk tweeted that he thought the panic was “dumb,” but has since changed his tune and said he’d make global donations to hospitals to help fight the virus.

Though the FDA has approved the BiPAP machines for use, and the state of New York has purchased them for conversion into ventilators, many doctors claim they don’t even refer to the machines as ventilators.

According to the American Society of Anaesthesiologists, testing using CPAP machines to treat SARS in 2003 showed that the machines could potentially pump viruses into the air.

For now, the machines appear as though they’re cleared for use and in demand by hospitals facing severe shortages of supplies and staff.

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