Race is on to buy more ventilators as intensive care wards fill up

A quarantine room in hospital. Photo: Robin Utrecht via HH
A quarantine room in hospital. Photo: Robin Utrecht via HH

With a shortage of intensive care beds in the Netherlands looming, questions are being asked about how quick off the mark the Netherlands was in ordering extra supplies.

The Dutch are boosting the number of intensive care beds at Dutch hospitals to at least 2,000, but there are doubts if that will be enough because people are spending twice as long in IC units as earlier thought.

The Netherlands placed its order for 1,000 extra ventilators for intensive care wards two weeks ago, Philips chief executive Frans van Houten has told television talk show OP1.

Asked if the Netherlands had been slow off the mark, Houten said: ‘I think the whole world was not following China closely enough. People thought things would be okay.’

A large shipment of ventilators was made to China early in the year, followed by Italy. ‘And then the stock was gone,’ he said.

A shipment of 100 Philips ventilators arrived in the Netherlands last week and the rest will follow as soon as possible, health minister Hugo de Jonge said at the time.

According to the Financieele Dagblad, the government has also signed a deal with Dutch company Demcon to produce 500 ventilators for use in intensive care units, which should be delivered within two weeks.

Production can be scaled up if necessary, an economic affairs ministry spokesman said.

The economic affairs ministry is also working on setting up a consortium of different companies to boost supply, the FD said.

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