Trump: American-made emergency ventilators could be shipped overseas to fight coronavirus

'They'll never be able to do it themselves,' Trump said of poor nations that would benefit from extra American ventilators to treat coronavirus.

St. Barnabas Hospital, Bronx, New York
(Misha Friedman/Getty Images
Last Updated:
March 27, 2020 - 7:28pm

President Trump said Friday that the emergency scramble to create enough ventilators for coronavirus patients could result in excess capacity that might eventually be shipped overseas to poorer allies in need.

"They'll never be able to do it themselves," Trump said, without naming specific countries, during the White House coronavirus task force briefing.

Some experts say that developing countries in Africa and South America would be particularly vulnerable to a coronavirus outbreak, which to date has largely been contained to more developed countries.

Trump on Friday utilized the Defense Production Act to force auto giant General Motors to manufacture ventilators to meet surging demand to treat coronavirus patients. 

The president also suggested that New York officials have overestimated their demand for ventilators. He said the federal government has sent tens-of-thousands to the state, about which New York officials were unaware and that are in a warehouse and still must be distributed.

During the briefing, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro Friday echoed Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who warned Friday that the urban hotspots like New York City, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans are at high risk for coronavirus risks.

"We have a wartime president fighting an invisible enemy," said Navarro, who pointed to a need for the ventilators in these urban areas facing a severe shortage of ventilators for coronavirus patients. "They're literally the life line for people."

Trump said America was testing more than 100,000 patients per day for coronavirus.

Earlier Friday, at the signing ceremony in the Oval Office for the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, Trump praised "Republicans and Democrats for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first."

“This is a very important day. I’ve signed the single biggest economic relief package in American history and, I must say, any other package by the way," Trump said. "This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers and businesses. That’s what this is all about.”

At the signing ceremony for the stimulus package, Trump briefly discussed stockpile issues.

“We have tremendous supplies coming into the stockpile," Trump said. "We have had tremendous results on the respirators. We’ve had great results on just about everything we’re talking about. Boeing just announced they will be making the plastic face shields, which are hard to come by. They are going to be making them by the thousands per week.”

He said the ventilators were the “most difficult because it is like building a car.”

Trump also mentioned his call with Chinese President Xi Jinping last night. 

"We talked about the experience that they had in China and all the things that have taken place," Trump said. "And we learned a lot. They have had a very tough experience. And they are doing well. He is doing well. President Xi is doing very well. We learned a lot and we have great communication together. We are going to be sent great data from China. Things have happened that they see. They have had an early experience, and we are getting all of that information. Much of it has already been sent. It was sent yesterday and sent to our scientists to study.”