New Delhi: No deaths from lack of oxygen were specifically reported by states and UTs during the second wave of COVID-19, the Rajya Sabha government informed Tuesday.
But there was an unprecedented increase in the demand for medical oxygen during the second wave and it peaked at almost 9,000 MT against 3,095 MT in the first wave, as a result of which the Center had to intervene to facilitate equitable distribution among states, he said.
Responding to a question of whether a large number of COVID-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to an acute shortage of oxygen during the second wave, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar noted that health is a state matter and that states and UTs are regularly reporting the number of cases and deaths to the Center.
“Detailed guidelines for reporting deaths have been issued by the Union Department of Health to all states and UTs.
“As a result, all states and UTs regularly report cases and deaths to the Union Department of Health. However, no oxygen deficiency deaths have been specifically reported by states and UTs,” Pawar said in a written response.
He said the Indian government has supported the states and has undertaken a series of actions including the supply of medical oxygen and other consumables to ensure clinical care of COVID-19 patients given the sharp increase in the trajectory of COVID-19 in the country in April- May 2021.
Regarding the total oxygen demand by states and the total oxygen supplied, the ministry said the supply of medical oxygen to hospitals is determined by contractual agreements between the hospital and the relevant medical oxygen supplier.
“However, due to an unprecedented increase in demand for medical oxygen during the second wave – demand in the country peaked at almost 9,000 MT compared to 3,095 MT in the first wave – the central government had to intervene to facilitate equitable distribution to the States.
“A dynamic and transparent framework for the allocation of medical oxygen in consultation with States and UTs and all stakeholders such as relevant ministries, manufacturers / suppliers of liquid oxygen, etc. has been prepared,” states the written response.
The active state and UT workload was the primary determinant of oxygen allocation. Other factors such as the doubling rate of cases, available medical infrastructure, etc. were also duly taken into account.
In addition, the allocation has been kept dynamic according to the evolution of the pandemic load.
The first award order was issued on April 15, 2021 and revised from time to time, based on trends in active cases and the position of the offer. A total allocation of 10,250 MT has been made to 26 high load states as of May 28, 2021, according to the response.
The Indian government, along with state governments, has taken all possible measures to deal with the unprecedented increase in oxygen demand that occurred during the second wave of COVID-19.
This includes improving the production of liquid medical oxygen (OMT) from 5,700 MT in August 2020 to 9,690 MT in May 2021, restrictions on industrial use of oxygen; and increasing the availability of containers.
The minister said states also have oxygen equipment such as oxygen cylinders, concentrators and pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen production plants. A total of 4,027,517 oxygen cylinders have been purchased or are in the process of being purchased and distributed to the States.
No less than 1,222 PSA oxygen production plants were sanctioned. Of these, as of July 15, 2021, 237 power plants have been commissioned.
Apart from that, 295 PSA plants are being installed by different ministries, the minister said.
States have also been urged to prepare state-level oxygen production plants, he added.
To increase the storage capacity of liquid medical oxygen in the states, as part of the emergency COVID-Part-II package, 1,050 liquid medical oxygen tanks with MGPS at a cost of Rs. 80 Lakh each have been approved. , he informed the House.