Fitbit, which makes fitness-tracking wearables, will be shifting supply chain resources to make emergency ventilators, Fitbit CEO James Park said to CNBC. The ventilators will be used to help treat COVID-19 patients and could help bolster the national supply of the medical devices, which have been in need during the pandemic.
“There was a lot of concern about the shortage of ventilators and we realized we had expertise already around the supply chain,” Park said to CNBC.
Fitbit plans to submit the designs for its ventilator to the Food and Drug Administration under an emergency use authorization “in the coming days,” according to CNBC. An emergency use authorization is exactly what it sounds like: it allows a medical device or product that hasn’t been officially approved by the FDA to be used to treat a life-threatening disease.
Park aims for the ventilators to be the “most advanced” emergency user ventilator available for a “lower” cost, but that a price hasn’t been determined, according to CNBC. Most ventilators cost thousands of dollars, and high-end ones can cost as much at $50,000. A Fitbit spokesperson declined to give more details to The Verge.
A number of organizations have contributed manufacturing resources to make ventilators. GM and Ford have offered manufacturing space to some ventilator companies to help them produce more units. NASA developed a ventilator designed specifically for COVID-19 patients; the ventilator received emergency use authorization on April 30th, meaning it can enter production. Phone accessory maker Belkin has developed a single-use emergency ventilator in partnership with the University of Illinois which is under review for an emergency use authorization. And Tesla is developing a new ventilator that repurposes parts used in Tesla’s cars.
By Jay Peters