SOS oxygen calls are in the news as the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic infects more and more people, breaking records every day. States have called for immediate help from the Centre, and several hospitals have moved the high courts to ensure oxygen supply for their critical patients.
Lack of oxygen supply has caused passings at many places. Presently the oxygen supply is being monitored by the Center. The breathing gas was not a controlled commodity before as India had been an surplus producer of oxygen.
India has limit of producing around 7,250 tons of oxygen each day. Before the Covid pandemic, India’s healthcare system had a demand of around 700 tons of oxygen each day. The excess production meant the country has about 50,000 tonnes of stored oxygen – industrial as well medical grade.
Industrial oxygen is purified at more than 93% to change over it into clinical grade, called Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO). The demand of oxygen in the healthcare system has increased now to 5,000-8,000 tonnes per day. Considering the storage, the demand can be easily met but the problem lies in the logistics of transporting medical oxygen – involving the number of cryogenic containers, and the distribution system.
The central government has chosen to airlift mobile oxygen ageneration plants from countries such as Germany. The Air Force has been pressed into service to lift 23 mobile generation plants to be airlifted from Germany.
The Delhi government too decided to transporting oxygen tanks from Odisha to ensure supply of the breathing gas to the hospitals around there.
The armed force also have stepped in. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting of top officials including the three defence chiefs to help the civil administration deal with the Covid-19 crisis.