COVID-19 wave: Gujarat ventilator maker ramps up production

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Ahmedabad, Apr 9 (PTI) As the country reels under a second wave of COVID-19, the demand for ventilators has again shot up with suppliers getting busy in scaling up production of the life-saving device, industry officials have said.

A manufacturer of ventilators in Gujarat is ramping up production to meet the growing demand.

In January and February, the demand for ventilators had plummeted as daily coronavirus cases saw a significant drop.

However, most parts of the country are now reeling under a severe second wave of the pandemic.

We are seeing a new surge in demand for ventilators due to this fresh wave of rise in coronavirus cases,' Founder and CEO of Vadodara-based Max Ventilator Ashok Patel told PTI.

Patel said the current wave is causing severe impact on some patients.

'In this wave, patients require ventilator support just after five to six days of catching the infection, while earlier ventilator support was needed after 10 to 15 days, said Patel, an IIT Madras alumnus who is in healthcare equipment manufacturing for the last four decades.

We have commissioned 200 ventilators at different places in the last few days and are going to install another 50 in the next few days, he said.

Patel said his company is also boosting production of the key medical device.

We have now scaled up our production to 400 ventilators per month, which was very low during the first two months of this year, he said.

At the time of the last wave, barring initial few months of total lockdown, the company had worked hard to increase production capacity to meet the demand, he said.

In March 2020, our production capacity for ICU ventilators was just 20 units per month. In the last year due to the pandemic we increased that capacity to 1,000 units per month, Patel said.

Central government agencies were the biggest buyer during the last year when the pandemic struck, he said.

There are various types of ventilators. The ICU ventilators that Max manufactures are sophisticated engineering, not easy to make.

'The work of an ICU ventilator is four-fold which includes to enrich oxygen in the body of patients, to reduce carbon dioxide in the body, maintain breathing and eventually cure patients so he/she can breath normally, Patel explained.

ICU ventilators can be used to cure many diseases. So we have focused on developing high-end ventilators which hospitals can use in non-COVID-19 times also, he said.

Patel said initially he was into manufacturing power components before venturing into the medical equipment segment.

We have a dedicated team which has constantly improved upon the quality of the ventilators. In 2000, we made our first full-fledged ICU ventilator, he said.

Patel said the size of India's medical device industry was between Rs 16,000 crore and Rs 20,000 crore.

The irony is most of the things that are used in our hospitals are imported, including a Rs 40 rubber tube used to provide tube food to patients,' he said.

High-end machines are imported from the West, while all low-end items come here from China, he rued.

'India has talent and capacity to manufacture medical equipment, but due to lack of vision we are over-dependent on foreign devices which can be easily made in India,' Patel said.

Earlier this week, the administration in Surat city, where COVID-19 cases are surging, had put forward a demand for over 50 ventilators for patients.

Thedemand of ventilators was made during a visit of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to Surat on April 6.

Later, addressing a press conference Rupani had assured the government will provide more ventilator to Surat hospitals. PTI PD RSY RSY