President Donald Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro said Thursday there is no truth to a report that said the White House paid too much — by the tune of $500 million or more — for ventilators this year.
Responding to a Congressional report that said the White House paid Dutch medical equipment maker Philips too much, Navarro told CNN's "New Day" the claim is false.
"No. It's not true," he said.
Navarro said Philips made two ventilators — one for $3,000 and one for $15,000. The Department of Health and Human Services, he said, handled the order for 43,000 ventilators.
He described the two ventilator models as "the dirt bike versus the BMW." The former had "limited functionality," Navarro said, while the "BMW version" was the higher-end model.
Coronavirus patients would want to be put on the more expensive model "if, God forbid, you were in the ICU [intensive care unit] in the later stages of the disease," he added.
"With respect to Philips, HHS had the option of either buying the $15,000 one at $15,000 or getting multiple ones of the $3,000 one," he said.
The White House recently canceled most of its ventilator order with Philips, leaving the company without a buyer for 30,700 ventilators. The company said it is confident it will be able to find customers to purchase them, however.
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House was scrambling to find and purchase additional ventilators because several states, most notably New York, were running out of the lifesaving devices. This week, however, HHS confirmed that the national stockpile of ventilators is now full.
Doctors are using fewer ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients after learning more about the disease that has infected 26.3 million people worldwide and has killed more than 870,000.
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