Classic Mistake

Oops: Elon Musk Donated the Wrong Kind of Ventilator

He promised life-saving ventilators. He delivered sleep apnea machines.

4. 2. 20 by Dan Robitzski
Public Domain Pictures
Image by Public Domain Pictures

Over the last few days, Tesla CEO and bona fide public health disaster Elon Musk has scored a lot of praise and flattering press coverage for his promise to deliver medical ventilators to hospitals facing an overwhelming number of coronavirus cases.

Well, he delivered — sort of. Tesla purchased over a thousand surplus ventilators from the company ResMed and distributed them to hospitals (after slapping a Tesla logo on the boxes).

But, as Financial Times reports, there’s a bit of a problem. Instead of sending out the kind of ventilator that can save patients with severe cases of COVID-19, Musk actually donated BPAP machines designed to treat sleep apnea.

Tesla didn’t respond to Financial Times’ request for comment.


Now, to be fair, both BPAP and CPAP machines are known as noninvasive ventilators, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same as the invasive ventilators that hospitals are running low on.

Some experts have suggested that sleep apnea devices could help make it easier to breath for patients with milder coronavirus cases, according to Coronavirus Today.

“We think it’s great that Tesla purchased bilevel non-invasive ventilators from a platform of ours that we developed five years ago in Asia and sent them to New York,” ResMed CEO Mick Farrell told Financial Times. “We applaud any company who can help get ventilators and other respiratory products to those in need.”

But doctors have recommended against using the machines to treat coronavirus patients because they can actually facilitate disease transmission.


“In general, we’re just telling them not to use it,” Dr. Comilla Sasson, an emergency medicine specialist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, told NPR. “Because we are concerned about community spread, and we have to assume that anybody with respiratory distress is a COVID patient.”

So yes, Elon promised and delivered a big shipment of medical devices. But not the ones that hospitals actually need right now.

READ MORE: Elon Musk promised ventilators. These are BPAP machines. [Financial Times]

More on Elon Musk: Elon Musk Is a Public Health Risk


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