During the coronavirus crisis, it seems one of the primary problems countries are facing is the lack of ventilators available.
A shortage has struck nations across Europe like Italy, Germany and the UK (who have been criticised for their handling of the issue).
The US is also suffering from a lack of the life-saving machines.
Although the government has a stockpile of 16,000 ventilators, a sharp increase in cases means many more are thought to be needed.
A projection from the American Hospital Association said that up to 960,000 could require ventilators, although not all at the same time.
In New York State alone, Governor Andew Cumo said they need 30,000 more.
And now reports are emerging that Donald Trump’s administration has paused a deal for up to 80,000 ventilators in order to allegedly “haggle” over the price.
The New York Times reports that a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems has been called off after the Federal Management Agency said it “it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive”.
The estimated price tag was $1.5bn ($18,000 per ventilator).
Ventilators were going to be produced by General Motors plants using Ventec’s technology.
Initial projections of 20,000 ventilators produced in the first run were reduced to 7,500, according to the Times.
And Trump’s administration apparently couldn’t decide how many ventilators it wants – or at what price.
Instead of closing the deal, FEMA is apparently still “weighing competing offers”.
Or, as New York Magazine put it: “haggling”.
Trump himself seems confused over the demand for ventilators.
In an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on the 27 March, he said he “[didn’t] believe” that hospitals needed 30,000 ventilators.
“A lot of equipment is being asked for that I don’t think they will need,” he told Hannity.
I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they are going to be. I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go to major hospitals, sometimes they’ll have 2 ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’
This comment was swiftly challenged by people who pointed out New York is currently so overwhelmed it’s putting two people to every one ventilator.
And others chimed in with their concern regarding the suspended ventilator deal.
At an intensely worrying time, the last thing the country needs is the self-proclaimed ‘deal maker’ doing his worst.