April 16 (UPI) -- General Motors and medical technology firm Ventec said Thursday they are ready to deliver their first shipment of ventilators that were ordered by the federal government to address shortages at U.S. hospitals.
GM CEO Mary Barra and Ventec CEO Chris Kiple said in a joint statement the companies produced 600 ventilators at the automaker's Kokomo, Ind., plant and they will be delivered to the Federal Emergency Management Agency within days.
"Thousands of men and women at GM, Ventec, our suppliers and the Kokomo community have rallied to support their neighbors and the medical professionals on the front lines of this pandemic," Barra said. "Everyone wants to help turn the tide and save lives. It is inspiring and humbling to see the passion and commitment people have put into this work."
"Until there is a vaccine, critical care ventilators give medical professionals the tools they need to fight this pandemic and save lives," Kiple added.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week awarded GM a $490 million contract under the Defense Production Act to build 30,000 Ventec V+Pro critical care ventilators. The companies announced the joint effort on March 27.
GM and Ventec said almost half the order, nearly 15,000, will be filled by the end of June and the entire order will be completed by the end of August. The automaker said it has capacity to build more ventilators after August, if needed.