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Ensuring Oxygen Supply and Vaccinations: Quick Actions by Central Govt Instil Confidence in India’s Fight Against COVID-19

Amidst the worrisome trend of spiking COVID-19 infections, cogent measures are being taken by the Central Government to quickly address some of the concerns playing  out with unprecedent surge of infections.

Such  steps are instrumental in boosting the collective will of the people in this difficult hour.

Addressing Supply of Medical Oxygen

As soon as reports of hospitals in parts of India grappling with medical Oxygen supply came to the fore, the Central Government stepped in to ensure uninterrupted supply of the same.

As we discussed in the earlier article, it would be unintelligent to place the entire responsibility of shortage of medical supplies on the Central Government as it is the State Governments which enter into contracts with private players for the supply of medical Oxygen at hospitals.

Nevertheless, the Union Government has arrested the situation with alacrity and announced a couple of measures to address the issue.

Mapping of oxygen sources for 12 high burden states

To give clarity and assurance to the States on supply of Oxygen over the next few weeks of surge in infections, a mapping exercise was undertaken jointly by DPIIT, MOHFW, Ministry of Steel, various critically affected states, Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) along with key stakeholders including the representatives from oxygen manufacturers, All India Industrial Gas Manufacturers Association (AIIGMA) as per the directions of Empowered Group -2 (EG2).

Sources of medical Oxygen and their production capacity were mapped to match the requirement of states and an indicative framework has been developed to guide the states on the sources of medical oxygen.

100 PSA plants under PM CARES Fund: In January 2021 itself, PM-CARES Fund allocated funds to establish 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants to supply medical oxygen. Now, it is decided that another 100 hospitals in far flung locations will be identified for consideration of sanction for installation of PSA plants.

Import of medical oxygen: In view of increasing demand for medical oxygen, EG2 decided to float a tender for import of 50,000 MT of medical oxygen.

COVAXIN Vaccine Scale-up in Maharashtra

Maharashtra is worst-affected state in the second wave of COVID-19 infections. The State Government had also placed demand for additional vaccines.

Now, the Union Government has given approval to Mumbai-based Haffkine Institute to manufacture Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackery has thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this.

Amidst despair, fear and loss due to COVID-19 infection surge, these steps exhibit the proactive attitude of the Government and its ability to respond to ever dynamic situations. This will have a trickle-down effect and help the common citizens face the raging pandemic with hope and an assurance from the top that the country’s leadership is standing firm with the country.