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No shortage of medical oxygen supply in India: Health Secretary

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 15, 2020 Published on September 15, 2020

A shopkeeper marking oxygen cylinders before sales in Hyderabad   -  Nagara Gopal@thehindu

Medical experts worry about a shortfall in supply as the number of Covid-19 cases increases

The Centre on Tuesday said there is no shortage of medical oxygen available in the country even though medical experts in many States have expressed concern over a shortfall in supply with number of Covid-19 cases increasing.

“As of this morning, we have an oxygen production capacity of 6,900 tonnes a day. While liquid medical oxygen used by Covid and non-Covid patients in the country is 2,800 tonnes, oxygen used for industrial use is around 2,200 tonnes. Still, there is a headroom of 1,900 tonnes,” said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan while briefing the media here.

He, however, advised States to have better facility-level inventory management to ensure hospitals do not run out of oxygen supply. “We have also told States to set up a control room to monitor availability of oxygen on a day-to-day basis. Most States and hospitals have contracts signed with medical oxygen makers and suppliers for dedicated supply a high level,” he said.

Virtual control room

Bhushan asked States to replenish the stock in time so that there is always supply available for 2-3 days. He also said the Centre has set up a virtual control room with officials from ministries of health and industries, department of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and others as members to help the States in dire need.

With the daily number of Covid-19 cases touching close to 1 lakh a day, States are already rushing to secure oxygen supply for those patients who suffer from severe forms of the disease. According to data revealed by the Health Secretary, nearly 6 per cent of hospitalised patients, including those in intensive care and on ventilator, require oxygen.

Russian vaccine trials

Balram Bhargava, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), also present at the briefing, said discussions are still on to work out a mechanism for clinical trials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, for which phase 3 trials recently commenced in Russia, in India. He said published studies have shown that the vaccine is safe and capable of generating immune response.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country moved closer to the 5 million mark, of which nearly 20 per cent are active infections. According to the Health Ministry data, over 38.5 lakh patients have recovered from the infection, while around 80,000 have died.

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Published on September 15, 2020
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