No shortage of medical oxygen for Covid patients: Health Ministry

New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS): The Health Ministry on Tuesday clarified that there is no dearth of medical oxygen in the country, in wake of reports about its scarcity, and in fact, there is a surplus of thousands of metric tonnes.

Medical oxygen is used for oxygen therapy in hospitals, and it is considered on par with a drug or a pharmaceutical product.

According to the ministry, over six per cent of coronavirus patients currently require oxygen. As many as 3.69 per cent are on oxygen support, 2.17 per cent were on ICU beds (with oxygen) and 0.36 percent were on ventilator support (with oxygen).

Addressing a press conference, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said: "At the national level, there is absolutely no shortage of oxygen. In fact, there is a surplus of 1,900 metric tonnes. The problem happens when, at the facility level, you do not have inventory management."

Explaining the overall situation, Bhushan said that the country has the ability to produce more than 6,900 metric tonne of oxygen. Covid-19 patients and oxygen consumed by non-Covid essential services, together comes to 2,800 metric tonnes daily.

Noting industrial requirement is 2,200 metric tonnes daily, he said that this makes 5,000 metric tonnes daily and there is a headroom of 1,900 metric tonnes daily.

He urged the states to ensure that there is proper inventory management and if there is going to be a shortage, supplies should be replenished on time and help should be sought from the Central government.

India on Tuesday reported a spike of 83,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the country's total case tally past 49 lakh. The country's overall Covid tally stands at 49,30,237 and 9,90,061 of them are active cases.

As far as the vaccine is concerned, indigious vaccines -- Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed Phase-1 and Serum Institute of India's "wants to start the Phase-3 trial, which will commence after the clearance is given by the DCGI," said Bhushan.

In the press conference, Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Balram Bhargava commented on a recent study conducted by the apex body which stated that plasma therapy for Covid-19 neither reduced the death risk nor did it slow down the progression of the disease from mild to severe stage.

"This is a pre-print which is still undergoing peer review. Once the peer review is done, and we get the full publication out, this data will be considered by the National Task Force and Joint Monitoring Group of the Ministry of Health. A decision will be taken whether we should continue with this. There are a few cases where some reactions can occur and that is why we will take a considered view once we get the full publication of this study."



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