LONDON — One doctor described the machines as being like “gold.”Ventilators have quickly become the most sought-after medical device in the world because of their ability to help save the lives of some of the sickest coronavirus patients.What worries experts is that it’s increasingly clear many countries — including the United States and much of Europe — have nowhere near enough of them to keep pace with a pandemic killing exponentially more people every day.The challenge is daunting.The U.S. currently has an estimated 160,000 ventilators, far short of the 740,000 it would need in a “severe” pandemic like the Spanish flu of 1918, according to a study by the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins.It’s because of this that governments around the world have been scrambling to buy and make as many ventilators as possible. President Donald Trump even suggested that states might be better off not waiting for federal help, “if they can get them faster by getting them on their own.”British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked large companies that don’t make ventilators, like Rolls Royce and the domestic appliance firm Dyson, to pivot toward the production of medical equipment in a way not seen outside war.Johnson

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