Russia Suspends Use of Ventilator Type Sent to US After Fatal Fires

By Reuters
May 13, 2020World News
Russia Suspends Use of Ventilator Type Sent to US After Fatal Fires
Emergency personnel work at the site of a fire at the St. George hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 12, 2020. (Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images)

MOSCOW—Russia on May 13 suspended the use of some Russian-made medical ventilators after two fatal hospital fires reported to involve the machines, a setback in its fight against the CCP virus.

The ventilators’ safety was called into question a day earlier after a fire at St. George’s Hospital in St. Petersburg in which five people died. That followed another fire at a hospital in Moscow which killed one person on Saturday.

In both cases, sources told the TASS news agency that the source of the fires had been faulty Aventa-M ventilators.

A medic-Russia
A medic wearing protective gear is seen on the premises of the St. George hospital after a fire broke out in the medical facility in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 12, 2020. (Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities have procured hundreds of Aventa-Ms to help hospitals cope with CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus patients. Though Russia has so far suffered a low number of CCP virus-related deaths compared to other countries, at 242,271 its infections tally is now the second-highest in the world after the United States.

Russia sent a batch of the same ventilators to the United States in early April, though U.S. officials say the machines were not needed in the end.

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation via teleconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, on May 11, 2020. (Alexey Nikolsky/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images)

Roszdravnadzor, the state healthcare regulator, said in a statement it was suspending the use in Russia of all such machines made after April 1.

It gave no explanation for the suspension but noted that the ventilators had been used in the two hospitals where the recent fires had taken place, which it said a day earlier it was looking into.

It was not immediately clear exactly how many new ventilators the suspension would cover.

Public procurement data cited by the Interfax news agency said that the Saint George Hospital in St. Petersburg spent 441 million roubles ($6 million) last month on buying 237 Aventa-M ventilators.

Hospital-CCP Virus-Fire-Russia
Russian Emergency Situation workers attend the scene of a fire at St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 12, 2020. (Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo)

The procurement contract was finalized on April 24, it said. Each ventilator costs 1.86 million roubles ($25,000).

The ventilators are made at the Urals Instrument Engineering Plant (UPZ) in the region of Sverdlovsk.

Radio-Electronic Technologies Concern (KRET), which controls UPZ, said on Tuesday that its ventilators had passed all the necessary tests and had been used by medical facilities in Russia since 2012 without any safety concerns.

It urged people to avoid rushing to conclusions until the outcome of official investigations into the fires was known.

By Anastasia Teterevleva and Tom Balmforth

NTD staff contributed to this report.

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