In WWII the United States ramped up to build the weapons of war at an incredible pace.
Indeed, Roosevelt’s faith in American industrial productivity and innovation was vindicated. Examples abound. During the war, the Army’s Detroit tank arsenal and other sources produced over 45,000 M-4 medium tanks in fifteen variations. In 1941, German factories produced 3,256 tanks; U.S factories 4,052. In 1942, the numbers were 4,098 and 24,997, respectively, and the Germans — despite efforts which more than doubled production levels — never came close thereafter.34 In 1943 alone, U.S. factories made over 4.4 billion .50 caliber machine gun cartridges.
In the fight against the Coronavirus, we need to ramp up the production of ventilators at a pace that has never been seen before. The only way to do it is to pick a single ventilator design, and open source the entire plans, and specs- and ask everyone and anyone who can manufacture parts to do so. Starting yesterday.
It doesn’t have to be the most technically advanced ventilator- it probably should be the one that’s easiest to sterilize, the one that can do multiple patients at once. We’ll need supplies for it as well. Those too, have to be open sourced. With the internet, we have the ability to share the plans, and coordinate production in a way that we never imagined in WWII. If we had competent leadership – this would have been happening already.
It’s also clear that we are going to need to ramp up the production of oxygen. We’re going to need to build decontamination stations, to place outside the new Corona camp field hospitals. We’ll also need to make personal protective equipment in the same way. Pick a standard, and start production as fast as possible.
In WWII our ability to build huge numbers of B17’s, Sherman Tanks and M1 rifles, was a big part of the reason we won the war. The bravery of those on the front lines was another. We’ll have people who will bravely fight this battle, but, without the right tools they will not be as effective. We have to mobilize now.
Without an exponential build capacity of ventilators, we won’t win. Let’s build the B-17 ventilator, now.