Central Government moves to ramp up ventilator count

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on March 27, 2020

To source 30,000 devices from BEL and 10,000 from another PSU

The Centre is pulling out all stops to ramp up the number of ventilators, which are crucial in Covid-19 treatment.

“There is a paucity of ventilators in States and at the Central level,” Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), said on Friday. “We have engaged a public sector unit to supply 10,000 ventilators, and are commissioning the production of another 30,000 ventilators with Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).”

This is apart from the 1,200 ventilators the Centre had promised earlier.

As on March 27, there are 724 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country, of which 67 have been cured and 17 have died, according to the Ministry data.

John Hopkins estimates

A study released on March 24 by the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, at US-based John Hopkins University, estimated the number of ventilators in India at 30,000-50,000.

The John Hopkins study projected that India may need up to 10 lakh ventilators as cases peak between March and April. “Preparedness for case load should be the highest priority at this time,” it indicated.

A senior Health Ministry official told BusinessLine that as on March 27, there are over 14,000 ventilators identified in designated isolation wards for Covid-19 cases. “Of these, Tamil Nadu has the maximum number of ventilators as on date, at 4,177, followed by Maharashtra at 1,299 and Andhra Pradesh at 1,094,” the official said.

The other States have fewer than 1,000 each, with the number in single digit in some. “Delhi, for example, can spare 55 ventilators as of now. But we are updating this data and adding capacities every day,” the official added.

Global treatment effort

India will participate in the solidarity trial to be undertaken by the World Health Organisation to find a treatment for Covid-19. “This is a worldwide trial. While earlier India’s numbers were minuscule, now cases are rising and we are in a position to join the WHO trial,” said R Gangakhedkar, Head, Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, Indian Council of Medical Research.

Anti-viral drugs used for HIV and malaria, and an antibody-rich plasma derived from cured Covid-19 cases are among the treatments being studied in clinical trial design settings across the globe, according to the WHO.

Published on March 27, 2020

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