In all the countries affected by Covid-19, artificial respirators have become strategic devices, to the point that even car manufacturers are now responsible for making them. However, in two clicks on the internet, we found respirators for sale! A parallel market, where prices are soaring.
On the internet, there are dozens of offers: resuscitation ventilators assembled in China. One of them is displayed at 5,000 dollars, or 4,500 euros. We contact the seller, near Shanghai. He says his name is David, and to convince us of the seriousness of his business, he shows us around from a distance. On his video, we see around thirty employees who are busy making these respirators. And if the photos were to be believed, the company would ship whole trucks these days.
Then we talk about the price. Unpleasant surprise, it has almost multiplied by 6 compared to the announcement. “Price: 26,000 euros per machine. You have to transfer the money now, “he wrote to us. And when we asked him why such an increase:”Transfer the money immediately. We'll talk about the details when I get it, ok? Next week it will be 30,000 euros“. Then annoyed by our questions, he finally fixed the price at 32,000 euros for the respirator. That is to say a 20% increase … in a quarter of an hour.
Aggressive sales methods that have already faced the resuscitation service of Pr Philippe Montravers, at Bichat Hospital (Paris): “When you are in the desert and you are offered a glass of water at 1000 €, if you are very very thirsty you will probably be ready to open your wallet. You can buy a product on the internet, but there will be no distributor, there will be no spare parts, there will be no repairs possible. “
Expensive equipment that hospitals are used to testing before purchasing, to avoid failures with dramatic consequences. “Try to ventilate a very very serious patient with a ventilator that is not efficient, it does not work: we cannot oxygenate people and they die, “explains Dr Frédérique Servin, anesthesiologist.
Hospitals in Paris say they do not buy such devices on the internet. But elsewhere, it is not always so. We got a transfer order from an Italian hospital, which ordered 19 respirators from our Chinese counterpart for $ 133,000, or 120,000 euros, on March 16. The director of the Italian hospital says he has still not received anything: “The first respirators were due to arrive last Friday. But we are not in a position to negotiate. The Chinese were able to supply us before the European manufacturers. We too suffered a price increase at the last moment. “
The health minister announced this weekend a state order for 1,000 respirators from the benchmark manufacturers. Something to avoid French hospitals, we hope, the abuse of online sellers.
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