IIR member news: Air Liquide joins the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic

To deal with the Covid-19 epidemic in France, the Air Liquide group, member of the IIR, has decided to produce 10,000 respirators in 50 days.

In France, the crisis caused by the Covid-19 epidemic has been described by the President of the Republic as a “state of war”.


In this complicated context, national efforts are focused on the health system: a “plan blanc” [1] has been launched to mobilize a maximum of human resources in the medical community. Young retired doctors, nursing or medical students are being called to the field.


The issue of medical equipment is also at the heart of the problem: in fact, France is facing a shortage of FFP2 masks to protect healthcare workers, and is cruelly short of respirators to take care of patients  suffering from severe breathing difficulties.


In France, the only manufacturer of respirators is the Air Liquide group, a benefactor member of the IIR since 1977.

The usual production rate of respirators at the Antony factory, near Paris, is estimated at 500 per month.


At the end of March, Air Liquide announced that this factory would gradually double, triple, then quadruple this production between April and May, by mobilizing teams day and night, seven days a week, on around fifty sites. The company also produces oxygen cylinders, used for patient transport.


A few days later, in order to further increase this production, several French companies joined together in a consortium around Air Liquide in order to pool efforts: thus PSA (which notably produces Peugeot and Citroën cars), Schneider Electric or Valeo have joined this consortium.


As such, the  10,000 respirators are expected to be produced in 50 days, which corresponds to what is usually produced in three years. Air Liquide will supply these respirators at cost price.


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[1] The French white plan ("plan blanc") is the emergency plan, in France, to face a sudden increase of activity in a hospital, such as a massive arrival of casualties due to an accident or a disaster (who may come by their own means to the emergency department or are evacuated by a red plan), an epidemic or a lasting climatic event that becomes deadly for fragile people such as a heatwave. [Source: Linguee]