Controversy over ‘Nigeria’s’ request for ventilators from Elon Musk
Nigeria has shown interest in getting at least 100 to 500 free ventilators from Elon Musk, a South African-born American entrepreneur and businessman.
Ventilators are life-saving machines that keep patients breathing when they no longer can on their own.
Musk said his company Tesla is offering to pay for and ship the crucial medical component to hospitals around the world.
“We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free,” Musk tweeted.
“Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse,” he said.
Nigeria’s finance ministry, in a response to the tweet, tweeted for the support of the businessman requesting for the free ventilators.
“Dear @elonmusk @Tesla Federal Government of Nigeria needs support with 100-500 ventilators to assist with #Covid19 cases arising every day in Nigeria,” Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning tweeted.
It is not clear if the tweet was officially sanctioned. But it has since been deleted.
It is also unclear if Nigeria has any critical case of coronavirus that might need ventilators immediately as that is the condition at which the business is giving out the vents.
The Nigerian government had several times turned down journalist requests to know the number of ventilators the country has.
Critics berated the government for begging for such “giveaway” openly, while some others said the government is “very much in order” citing that ventilators are very scarce due to the pandemic.
Daily Trust reported that Nigeria has, at least, 169 ventilators in 16 states. The number of the equipment in Lagos and Abuja is not known.
Many of the countries are battling acute shortage of ventilators and have even turned to donors or enacted laws to compel some companies to manufacture them.
This reflected in the number of self-identified doctors and public officials from other countries that requested for the free ventilators from Elon Musk. These countries include Spain, Argentina, Ukraine, Ecuador, Honduras and several others.
“Dear Elon,Ukraine🇺🇦 is the second largest country in Europe with population nearly 40 mln citizens. The pandemic situation in Ukraine is approaching its peak, April is going to be the hardest. People in hospitals need ventilators. We are ready to cooperate! Dyakuyemo” the official Twitter handle of Ukrainian embassy in the United States said in a reply to Musk’s tweet.
According to a report by World Economic Forum, ventilators can cost $30,000 but a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is working on an open-source, low-cost ventilator design that can be made using just $100 worth of parts.
Some of Tesla’s purchased ventilators are already in New York City at the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.
The Queens hospital where Tesla shipped ventilators became a flashpoint after a video shot by a doctor within the hospital was widely shared. In the video, the doctor said, “We don’t have the tools that we need.” New York City has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with more 43,000 confirmed cases and over 1,000 deaths as of April 1.
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