Ventilators to help India breathe easy in battle against COVID-19

India would need 80-100 times the available number of ventilators to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Ventilator Coronavirus COVID hospital
The health ministry is looking to procure about 30,000 machines in the next 1-2 months to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. | Photo - iStock

As the COVID-19 cases are springing in scores across the nation, the healthcare system in India is reeling under stress to meet the growing demand.

To aid the doctors and nurses help COVID-19 patients fight the coronavirus, a key device is the ventilator, whose demand is growing, as that of other medical devices such as masks and other personal protective equipment.

The virus which is known to affect the respiratory system of the patients who will be put on ventilator, a medical device used to assist the patient with breathing. The machine looks like an octopus with a lot of pipes.

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Ventilators for COVID-19

Ventilators replace a COVID-19 patient’s breathing function by pushing air into the lungs, and gives the patient time to fight the infection and recover.

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There are three types of ventilators based on the mechanism used to deliver air — bellow-driven or piston ventilators, turbine ventilators, and external compressed air driven ventilators.

The external compressed air-driven ventilator is suitable for COVID-19 patients. Turbine ventilators are the next options as a COVID-19 patient’s lungs are stiff and the air passages are swollen. The patient’s lungs need higher pressure and high flow.

Ventilators in India

Data released by the Union health ministry shows there are only 8,432 ventilators in the public sector hospitals in India. And there are about 30,000 ventilators overall, including in private hospitals, according to estimates.

India will require a huge number of ventilators, around 80-100 times the available number of ventilators to prepare for the worst-case scenario, according to a report in The Print.

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The health ministry has said that the government is looking to procure about 30,000 machines in the next 1-2 months to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the pandemic outbreak, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors and Karnataka-based Skanray, besides state-run Bharat Electronics and DRDO are involved in the production and procurement of the mechanical breathing devices.

According to reports, ventilators manufactured in India cost ₹5-7 lakh, while a foreign machine with same features will cost between ₹11-18 lakh.

However, India is mostly dependent on imports from Europe and China for ventilators. In the current crisis, the essential electronic parts coming from China and the European Union are taking over 10 days to reach India.

In UK, the government has tied up with top automobile and aviation companies, including Airbus, Ford, Rolls Royce, to scale up the manufacture of the devices.

 (With inputs from agencies)

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