Medtronic, one of the world's biggest manufacturers of life-saving ventilators, is more than doubling its 250 staff in Galway in a bid to save more lives in the fight against coronavirus. 

The US medical device company operates a manufacturing plant in Galway and has already increased the production of ventilators by 40 percent since the emergence of the deadly virus. It plans to double production in the coming weeks. 

Medtronic plans to make its Galway facility a "24/7 operation" by introducing shift patterns to produce more ventilators. 

Ventilators can be the difference between life and death in the fight against COVID-19 and they are becoming increasingly short in supply in hospitals around the world. 

In Galway, Medtronic manufactures two of its most high-performing ventilators, the Puritan Bennett 980 and Puritan Bennett 840, which are designed for critically ill patients like those battling the worst effects of coronavirus. 

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The company floats on the New York Stock Exchange and released a statement to its investors earlier this week. 

“Medtronic is prioritizing high risk/high needs areas for ventilators allocation on a weekly basis for global distribution through its supply chain,” the release said.

“COVID19 is a dynamic global issue, and Medtronic will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates to its employees, customers and investors as the situation warrants.”

Bob White, Executive Vice President at Medtronic, said that it would be impossible for any company to meet the current global demand for ventilators. Instead, Medtronic will prioritize high-risk and high-need areas. 

"Medtronic is committed to getting more ventilators into the market and to the right locations in the world to help doctors and patients dealing with COVID19," he said. 

There are currently 500 ventilators in Irish public hospitals and the Health Service Executive (HSE) has ordered an extra 900 to bolster its services ahead of an expected increase in COVID-19 cases. The HSE also ordered 900 pieces of equipment that provide respiratory support. 

An HSE spokesperson said: “We are continuing to work with suppliers to procure and ensure adequate supply in a challenging market." 

Ventilators have already proved crucial in the fight against coronavirus in some of the world's worst-affected areas. 

In Italy, where doctors say they have to choose between who lives and who dies, "every ventilator becomes like gold", according to Dr. Daniele Macchini in Bergamo. 

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There are currently 500 ventilators in Irish public hospitals. Getty