In this moment of public health emergency caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, the healthcare sector is facing unprecedented challenges.
In particular, the virus outbreak is causing severe shortages of critical medical equipment in hospitals or limited access to essential pieces, in particular valves or ventilators.
CECIMO, as the European association for Additive Manufacturing was requested by the European Commission to address its membership and query if it would be able to aid in producing equipment (for instance, valves or ventilators) that hospitals are lacking due to the COVID19 outbreak in Europe. Consequently, CECIMO has decided to expand the call for action to all AM companies, urging everybody who has the possibility to do so, to assist the needs of hospitals all over Europe.
The response from CECIMO Members has been so far very positive, with many companies from the European 3Dprinting industry already volunteering to aid hospitals and health centers by proposing the use of their machines. CECIMO believes that the additive manufacturing sector can be the right answer to reach immediate solutions. A good example is the case of the Italian start-up Isinnova, which offered their printer to a hospital in lack of valves for their medical devices.
From a regulatory point of view, there are some legal constraints that can hamper the full implementation of such solutions. Member States should consider temporarily waiving some of the Medical Device Directive requirements for strategical goods during this period of crisis.
In this regard, we welcome Commissioner Breton’s statement, claiming that the EC will facilitate all companies helping in this time, also protecting them from potential legal issues. The Commissioner also highlighted that technologies such as 3D printing should be included in the scope of a new fund aiming to sustain different sectors, such as healthcare, in this time of need.
“I believe that the additive manufacturing sector can play an important role in sustaining the effort of hospital workers in the middle of this emergency.” Says Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General, “However, it is in the best interest of all to clarify the regulatory issues in order to move forward quickly and in a way that is not going to delay immediate actions".