The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, based in Kjeller outside Oslo, has been working together with the Stavanger-based Lærdal Medical and the Ski-based hydraulics company Servi to develop the breathing devices, which are designed to be easy to use by health staff with little prior training.
“I'm here today because I have good news, a happy story to tell, a story of how the spirit of service and productivity have come together,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said as she announced the order on Tuesday night.
“Norway will not need all of them. This means we can contribute internationally with essential equipment for patients who need help breathing.”
Tore Lærdal, chief executive of Lærdal Medical, said his company aimed to produce the first of the appliances within the “next few weeks”. “The goal is to be able to produce the ventilators so cheaply that they can be used in low-income countries when the coronavirus pandemic strikes there,” he said.
Norway's hospitals currently have 682 ventilators, and a delivery is expected in coming weeks to take the number to 1123, close to the 1,200 the Norwegian Institute of Public Health estimates may be needed at the peak of the pandemic.
“We have taken measures to avoid getting into a situation where we do not have enough intensive care places,” Solberg said during the press conference, predicting that the peak of patients would come in a few months.