Government backs low-cost ventilator production abroad

On June 30, the Swiss foreign minister and the Ukrainian ambassador to Switzerland signed a memorandum of understanding to support the ETH ventilator project. Keystone / Peter Schneider

The Swiss government has signed a deal with Ukraine to launch a Swiss start-up project that will produce simple and affordable ventilators.

This content was published on July 1, 2020 - 12:01
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Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and Ukraine’s ambassador to Switzerland, Artem Rybchenko, on Tuesday signed an agreement outlining the terms of the CHF1.5 million ($1.6 million) in start-up funding.

The humanitarian project aims to ease the shortage of ventilators in some developing countries with the help of the federal technology institute ETH Zurich. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, ETH Zurich developed a way to produce ventilators simply and cheaply using largely standard components available locally. 

“This project is an example of science diplomacy,” Cassis said. “It also demonstrates the potential of cooperation with the scientific community for sustainable development.”

The first large batch of the devices will be produced in Ukraine and delivered to health centres and first-aid posts in the country. The ventilators may also be exported to developing countries. 

In a statement the foreign minister said the ventilators could not only help with symptoms of Covid-19 but could also be used for a wide range of health needs, such as in outpatient clinics.

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