Demand for life-saving medical devices, including ventilators, has shot up sharply once again amid the second wave of covid-19 infections.

Domestic manufacturers that were planning to diversify into other medical devices and exploring the exports market after a brief period of pandemic-induced lull are again getting orders for covid-19 treatment equipment.

Reported infections have hit the 100,000-a-day mark, and active cases have risen to around 6% of the total, many of them requiring treatment.

More than 80% of the new cases have come from eight states—Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Max Ventilator has seen a nearly 40% jump in demand for ICU ventilators in the past few weeks.

“Since the second wave of cases, we have sold as many as 205 ventilators across the country, with most of the demand coming from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab. And of these ventilators, in the last two days only, we have sold about 100 to hospitals and healthcare facilities in Vadodara alone in Gujarat,” said Ashok Patel, founder of Max Ventilator.

“Both private and government hospitals have almost in equal proportion purchased the life-saving and breathing equipment. The second wave has completely changed the game and even redrawn the ventilator market landscape from the standpoint of manufacturers,” said Patel.

Ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) became the manufacturing face of the pandemic as the country scrambled to provide critical healthcare to its citizens in 2020. According to the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, Princeton University, India had only 48,000 ventilators at the time of the outbreak, against a requirement for 150,000.

A number of domestic manufacturers, including Bharat Electronics Ltd (in collaboration with Skanray Technologies), AgVa Healthcare (in collaboration with Maruti Suzuki Ltd), MedTech Zone, Mahindra and Mahindra, and Hyundai Motor India Ltd, manufactured and delivered ventilators to fill the need gap.

Around the same time, many global players came in with world-class medical technology. Brands such as Hamilton Medical and GE Healthcare supplied cutting-edge ventilators to healthcare facilities.

Hamilton Medical, a specialist ventilator brand from Switzerland, is in the process of installing a batch of 1,500 ventilators across government-run hospitals such as AIIMS in Gorakhpur, Bhatinda, Raebareli and Nagpur, as well as hospitals in Dimapur, Dibrugarh, Imphal, Silchar and other tier 2 towns. Philips also recently introduced its mobile intensive care units (ICUs) in India.

“India Inc. responded magnificently to the challenge of ramping up capacity to make 400,000 ventilators per annum, up from 3,300 per annum in 2020,” said Rajiv Nath, forum coordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry.

“Many states have today grown their ICU infrastructure 2- to 3-fold and in cases even 5-7 fold. Even district headquarters have better infrastructure and trained manpower today. At AIIMS Rishikesh, we expanded the critical care capacity from just one ICU to seven ICUs during the pandemic,” said Dr Debendra Kumar Tripathy, vice dean (innovation) at AIIMS, Rishikesh.

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