By Anna Ringstrom

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish medical equipment group Getinge said on Wednesday it expected its high delivery rate for medical ventilators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue into next year before gradually returning to previous levels.

Getinge, which has already started boosting ventilator production capacity, said it had also decided to increase capacity for life support equipment, known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy.

“The (first) quarter was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge need for advanced ventilators and ECMO therapy at intensive care units around the world,” said Getinge, one of the world’s biggest ventilator-makers and the leader in ECMO equipment.

“We expect to see continuing strong demand in both areas since demand is far outstripping supply,” it said.

Getinge plans to ramp up ventilator production capacity to 26,000 units, or 160% of last year’s output levels, as hospitals around the globe scramble for equipment to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.

It said on Wednesday the increase would depend on its access to components from suppliers. Perjos told Reuters the investment in ECMO capacity would total several million crowns, financed by a loan announced last week.

SLOWDOWN ELSEWHERE

The maker of products for surgery, intensive care, infection control and sterilisation reported a jump in quarterly operating profit before amortisation and items affecting comparability to 661 million crowns ($65.5 million), from 369 million a year ago, matching preliminary results published on April 9.

Group order intake grew 47% on the back of ventilators and ECMO equipment, and also its sterile transfer containers.

Perjos told Reuters order intake for all other product groups slowed in the quarter because of the pandemic, and increasingly so towards the end of the quarter.

He said the steepest slowdown was within the Disinfection and Hospital Solutions segments, part of the Surgical Workflows division, and the group was reducing staff in those segments.

Getinge has been on a road to recovery in recent quarters, helped by restructuring, after a few turbulent years fraught with earnings misses, management reshuffles and costly quality control troubles.

Shares in the firm, whose rivals include Germany’s Draegerwerk and Hamilton Medical in Switzerland, were down 4% at 0752 GMT, taking a year-to-date rise to 7%.

($1 = 10.0978 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard and Barbara Lewis)