New Delhi: With the number of COVID-19 cases in India rising every day and the death toll reaching 32, the current adequacy may convert into possible shortage of ventilators &other life-saving medical supplies in the country is likely in the days to come.
As per Brookings report the country might need anywhere between 1,10, 000 – 2,20,000 ventilators by May 15 in the worst-case scenario and the number of ventilators today available in the country are a maximum of 57,000.
There is a pressing need of ventilators in India and a huge disparity in their availability in various states. For instance, Mumbai alone has 800 to 1,000 ventilators, while states such as Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh have 1,500 and 1,800 respectively. The city of Bengaluru, has approximately 400 ventilators, whereas Kerala has 5,000.
As India gears up to fight the Covid 19 crisis, the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry is at the fore front working relentlessly to combat the crisis. AiMeD and it’s 10 ventilator manufacturing members are in regular consultation with the Govt. to ensure controlling of Covid- 19 outbreak & support Govt. in facing ongoing healthcare challenges.
Mr. Rajiv Nath on behalf of the Indian Medical Device industry assured Commerce Minister, Shri Piyush Goyal Govt. full support to the Government& spirited fight against COVID-19 crisis and assured to work together with big companies like Maruti, Mahindra, Kalyaani, Tata Motors, Hyundai etc. to “rapidly” scale up production of ventilators. The aim is to produce 50,000 ventilators per month by May.
Mr. Rajiv Nath said “To tackle the shortage of ventilators India should go in for 2-3 models, one an epidemic low cost respirator model and a high end technology ICU model and instead of HLL doing all the procurement it could be done on GeM and procurement specification should not have any exclusionary requirement eg of US FDA / CE which is still being the case in most recent March Tenders of Maharashtra & Rajasthan. The initial MoH specifications seemed to be an over reach and impractical and not really specifications which could be making mass productions in tens of thousands of pieces that the Govt. and the country is looking at. These have however been subsequently revised and still under review.”
Mr Nath is hopeful that ‘Make in India’ will get a major boost with biggies like Maruti, Mahindra, Kalyaani, Tata Motors, Hyundai joining hands with AiMeD’s members to make Medical Devices.“In this large black cloud of Coronavirus the only silver lining I see is of boost to Make in India of Medical Devices which has been a neglected sector with import friendly policies in past with negligible duties. Hopefully this will change going forward”, he said.
Every country across the globe is busy assessing the available stock of working ventilators. It is like assessing the military equipment before starting a war. We can produce around 5,500 units locally every month with the present set of manufacturers,” said Rajiv Nath.
AiMeD has contacted seven of its ten major manufacturers, who have confirmed that the current production capacity of ventilator is 5,500-5,750 pieces per month. The actual production of previous month was approximately 2,700 pieces indicating already a rapid scale up in anticipation of an eventual spike in demand has taken place.
SkanRay the leading Ventilator Manufacturer has created a consortium with BEL, BHEL & Mahindra to ramp up production from standard 2000 pcs per month to currently 5000 pcs per month and 30,000 pcs per month by May. Similarly Agva has tied up with Maruti to scale up production from 400 pcs per month to 4000 pcs per month in April to 10,000 pcs per month by May. Others are similarly gearing up to address the challenge.
On other hand, for Masks, the manufacturing capacity of the 20 manufacturers in AiMeD’s list is well over 300 million (over 25 million/month) pcs per annum. Usually it’s excessive capacity so many manufacturers export their surplus but now demand has spiked as non medical consumers are wishing to wear these and Govt. has had to ban exports, he explained. There may be other manufacturers beyond this list. On today’s date, market has probably expanded to over 40 million pcs per month.
For PPE Coveralls & Gown ( PPE kits) the capacity reported by the 20 manufacturers of AiMeDis of over 6.25 million pcs i.e. over 5 lacs per month, again excessive than what Indian market usually needs but now being considered very less in terms of corona virus preparedness should the disease spike.
“Govt. has assured us all possible help and asked AiMeD not to worry about the restrictions imposed in the supply chain of essential commodities like medicines, raw materials, components to make masks, sanitizers, ventilators &other medical devices to the factories due to lockdown as within a short while the whole supply chain that was there before should be up and running completely unobstructed as far as medical devices are concerned. We hope that the local administration of town level DC / DM / Police will similarly facilitate as India cannot afford closure of any Factories especially of PPE &Masks, Gloves & Sanitizers” Said Mr. Rajiv Nath
Mr. Rajiv Nath applauded the central Govt under the able leadership of the C. Sec (Cabinet Secretary) who is monitoring the situation daily like a war situation room. “Never seen the Govt work so decisively, so fast. We also appreciate the collaborative efforts of DPITT, DoP & MeITY to support Make in India of Ventilators.”
The government has informed the manufacturers that the Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ) will provide financial assistance to the tune of Rs 40 crore for large-scale manufacturing of ventilators and many of AiMeD’s Electronic Manufacturers have bid for this assistance and walk in plug & play, in Factory facilitation.
“It is fantastic to see the competitors collaborating, exchanging ideas, willing to help each other with components, shortages, design & engineering. The fight with a common enemy has motivated us all to work together with ‘Nation First’, he said.