Dyson’s plan to make ventilators for the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic is over almost as quickly as it began. The company has halted its efforts after the country told it the CoVent breathing devices are “not required,” according to a statement from founder James Dyson to Engadget. He added that his firm would “not accept any public money” despite spending £20 million (about $24.7 million) on the project, but he also hoped that the ventilator would be useful in other countries with “time and investigation.” You can read the full statement below.
The businessman told staff that only a quarter of available ventilators in the UK were in use, according to the BBC. The UK government’s Cabinet office hasn’t made any decisions so far about using any newly developed ventilators.
The pause comes after some reported drama surrounding Dyson’s late March announcement. Telegraph sources said that Dyson’s announcement had sparked “fury” in the Prime Minister’s office as it preempted plans to outline a strategy to boost the National Health Service’s capacity. Effectively, Dyson may have been “point-scoring” for publicity’s sake, promising a giant order even though it needed regulatory approval to move forward.
As Dyson said, this doesn’t mean CoVent is gone. Countries hit harder by COVID-19, such as the US, might still need it. And a lack of demand is clearly a good thing at a time when many are still worried that hospitals could be overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. However, the decision to put manufacturing on hold may hurt Dyson’s reputation. This comes just months after company scrapped its electric car project in the fall — it’s not having much success outside of core categories like vacuum cleaners and hair dryers.