India, Covid-19, Mumbai, Modi, Oxygen, Shortage, Deaths, Mutant, Virus

India, Covid-19

As Covid Cases Surge, India May Need More Than Double The Medical Oxygen It Produces

As Covid cases surge, India may need more than double the medical oxygen it produces

5/4/2021 11:14:00 AM

As Covid cases surge, India may need more than double the medical oxygen it produces

I am a New York based health and science reporter and a graduate from Columbia’s School of Journalism with a master's in science and health reporting. I write on infectious diseases, global health, gene editing tools, intersection of public health and global warming. Previously, I worked as a health reporter in Mumbai , India , with the Hindustan Times, a daily newspaper where I extensively reported on drug resistant infections such as tuberculosis, leprosy and HIV. I also reported stories on medical malpractice, latest medical innovations and public health policies. I have a master’s in biochemistry and a bachelor’s degree in zoology. My experience of working in a molecular and a cell biology laboratory helped me see science from researcher's eye. In 2018 I won the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters. My Twitter account @aayushipratap

Oxygen manufacturers have suggested that supply isn’t the problem, insteadciting logistics and transportation, but given the ever increasing number of cases, there’s no surefire way to determine how much oxygen is sufficient, says Yadav. “We have to match it against ever increasing demand, right? So when someone says there is sufficient supply, they're assuming the current number of beds and cases.” For now, the case numbers keep rising, setting new records each day.

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An important first step, which the government already initiated, is to direct that all industrial oxygen be diverted for medical use. There isn’t a huge difference between the two, says Yadav, except that medical grade oxygen needs to pass additional testing requirements to certify that it is 95% pure and that the cylinders and equipment used are free of contaminants. India’s air force is flying empty tanks to be filled up at plants to cut down on travel time and also utilizing the railways. Additionally, multiple countries, international aid agencies and others have begun shipping thousands of oxygen cylinders and ventilators to India. 

For hospitals without tanks and piping, there are two main options: concentrators or PSA plants. Concentrators are portable devices, about the size of a large microwave, that suck in air and remove the nitrogen to provide highly concentrated oxygen. Think of PSA plants, which stands for pressure swing adsorption, as enormous concentrators mounted on a frame that can provide oxygen to dozens of patients. These are easier to install than a tank and piping system, but still require a big capital investment. And while facilities rush to set up oxygen infrastructure in the short-term, there needs to be training for staff on how to maintain and clean these devices.  headtopics.com

The international community has been supplying India with thousands of new oxygen concentrators, and the hope longer term is that whatever oxygen technologies hospitals acquire “can be redeployed post-Covid,” says Ruffo. While treating Covid patients is the immediate priority, oxygen is needed across the health system to treat issues among children and adults like asthma, pneumonia and heart failure. 

Tambe in Mumbai says the government needs to enforce stringent lockdowns to curtail the spread of the virus and ramp up the vaccinations on a massive scale. “Otherwise, with mutant virus, I will admit, I don’t even want to think of it,” he says. “We will have issues.” 

I am a New York based health and science reporter and a graduate from Columbia’s School of Journalism with a master's in science and health reporting. I write on… Read MoreI am a New York based health and science reporter and a graduate from Columbia’s School of Journalism with a master's in science and health reporting. I write on infectious diseases, global health, gene editing tools, intersection of public health and global warming. Previously, I worked as a health reporter in Mumbai, India, with the Hindustan Times, a daily newspaper where I extensively reported on drug resistant infections such as tuberculosis, leprosy and HIV. I also reported stories on medical malpractice, latest medical innovations and public health policies.  

I have a master’s in biochemistry and a bachelor’s  degree in zoology. My experience of working in a molecular and a cell biology laboratory helped me see science from researcher's eye. In 2018 I won the EurekAlert! Fellowships for International Science Reporters. My Twitter account @aayushipratap headtopics.com

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 Read LessI am a staff writer at Forbes covering healthcare, with a focus on digital health and new technologies. I was previously a healthcare reporter for POLITICO covering the… Read MoreI am a staff writer at Forbes covering healthcare, with a focus on digital health and new technologies. I was previously a healthcare reporter for POLITICO covering the European Union from Brussels and the New Jersey Statehouse from Trenton. I have also written for the

Los Angeles Timesand Business Insider. I was a 2019-2020 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in business and economics reporting at Columbia University. Email me at kjennings@forbes.com or find me on Twitter @katiedjennings. Read more: Forbes »

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