A final design of ventilator that can be rushed into mass production is expected to be agreed on by the Government and its health advisers as soon as today.
Officials were set to start meetings yesterday about selecting a single blueprint for the life-saving machines, which are needed to treat patients suffering from respiratory problems caused by coronavirus.
It is thought that once a ventilator design is identified – which could take until today – manufacturing could begin by the end of the month.
The Government has said it will buy as many ventilators as can be made to treat coronavirus patients.
There are about 8,000 ventilators in the UK at the moment.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, last week appealed to British industry to help design ventilators that can be easily built to meet the rising number of Covid-19 patients, and work out how production can be quickly ramped up.
The Government wants companies to supply 5,000 within a month, with a requirement of at least 30,000.
One source close to the situation said a design based on a ventilator built by Oxfordshire-based medical supplies company Penlon is seen as the frontrunner to be mass produced.
Aerospace and automotive companies including Airbus, Meggitt, GKN, McLaren and Nissan are working out how they can contribute to accelerating production, with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre also contributing expertise.
The High Value Manufacturing Catapult research centre is also working on entirely new designs. However, part of the test regime for a new ventilator is understood to require the device to be able to work continuously for 14 days, a requirement likely to slow down getting new machines into hospitals in time for the expected surge in coronavirus patients.