A Co Clare construction company, which has become Ireland’s largest supplier of Covid-19 PPE, has placed an order with the HSE for Chinese ventilators at a price 75% above the average cost of these machines.
EKO Integrated Services, an Ennis-based company, agreed to supply 100 VG70 ventilators from China to HSE in early April 2020 at a cost of € 65,000 per unit.
The average price paid by the HSE per ventilator during the Covid supply period was € 37,100 per device, including machines from previously recognized supply lines.
Other suppliers delivering VG70 fans from China at the time ranged the price of their units from € 13,800 to € 54,933.
A total of 10 suppliers, including EKO, have been hired to deliver ventilators from China at the start of the pandemic.
While the total agreed price for the EKO ventilators was 6.5 million euros, the actual amount paid to the Clare company was 9.14 million euros after the HSE canceled the ventilators contract and the converted to one for PPE.
EKO received their first contracts with HSE following intervention by Labor Party leader Alan Kelly, who recommended the use of their services to both HSE General Manager Paul Reid and his manager Sean Bresnan purchases on the back of the company’s existing supply lines. with China, from where most of the PPE bought in the world at the time was delivered.
“EKO Integrated Services submitted a proposal to HSE for the supply of modular pods in early March 2020 that included specified technical equipment, including fans,” a company spokesperson said.
Although this proposal was unsuccessful, the HSE then returned to EKO to source other products, including ventilators.
“The products from China were purchased and fully costed (including freight, transport and delivery) with the stipulation that deliveries of fans were to be in Ireland as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said, adding that the order was subsequently canceled “we assume due to the number of competing suppliers and the urgency of the order”.
They acknowledged that an order worth 9.1 million euros for PPE was subsequently provided by EKO, “including gloves and gowns”.
An HSE spokesperson said that “the market environment … was such that traditional supply channels were severely compromised” at the time.
They said that many organizations had provided offers of help at that time, including EKO.
They said the price of € 65,000 was “a product of the market environment of the time”. “Unprecedented demand and limited supply have driven up prices for all global health systems,” they said.