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 3 years ago    

“I can’t breathe…”, a phrase which started out with the George Floyd tragedy, has become an echoing reality in India today with the onset of the Second wave of the Covid-19 virus. Oxygen, a resource that none of us cared enough for, has become an essential requirement owing to the crippling pandemic situation in India. With extensive shortages across the country, several businesses and individuals have extended their help through various initiatives that we would like to throw some light on. Being caught unprepared for a lethal second wave, India had to ramp up the oxygen production, and eventually seek help from foreign entities to fulfill the unprecedented demand of about 11X. While constant efforts are being made to speed up oxygen production and supply, the shortage has given rise to a black market with prices amplified by 4X. 


Despite the consistent efforts of the Government to fulfil the rocketed demand for oxygen, logistics remain to be a nightmare. With hospitals reaching out to the courts in a cry for help to replenish supplies, the Indian Government has admitted that the current LMO (Liquid Medical Oxygen) capacity is short of 7200-8000 TPD, and since then efforts have been made to set up 500 oxygen plants across the country over the next three months. Although a positive effort, the current situation seems to be bleak with an unimaginably high number of infected people dying due to a shortage of oxygen. To bridge the interstate transport gap, the Centre and States have come up with alternate strategies such as allocating an exclusive train line ( Oxygen Express) or airlifting empty tankers to oxygen production plants so as to speed things up. However, LMO being a flammable gas cannot be airlifted, thereby remaining a barrier. Apart from the shortage of transport facilities interstate, several States are even finding it excruciating to transport the gas even within the State due to lack of vehicles. 

Halting the international strife and putting the cost of lives ahead of them, the Indian Government is all set to import 10,000 Phillips made oxygen concentrators and 25,000 such units from China. With help pouring in from everywhere, the military has planned to import 23 mobile oxygen production plants from Germany, where France has planned to send 8 such units to India, as well as ship 200 tons of liquid oxygen to Indian hospitals. International organizations such as the United Nations (UN), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have extended their help to mitigate the sudden surge by procuring equipment and supplies, including 7,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 nasal devices for oxygen supply, as well as oxygen generating plants, COVID-19 testing machines, and personal protective kits, while also setting up mobile field hospitals with a 20-30 bed capacity in most affected areas”, said Farhan Haq, a deputy spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Leaving no stone unturned, the Indian startup ecosystem has also reached out in times of need, bringing together innovation and support. 

Extending solidarity in this fight against the virus, Reliance Foundation is setting up a 1000-bed Covid-19 care facility with oxygen supply in Jamnagar, Gujrat where the services shall be provided free of charge within the coming week, as well as diverting 700 tonnes of medical-grade oxygen per day to hospitals across the country. Punit Renjen, the CEO of Deloitte Global, coordinating with a coalition of MNC’s has been making efforts to arrange oxygen concentrators, cylinders, and generators with a focus on immediate delivery to India. The KVN Foundation- Mission MillionAir aims to secure free oxygen concentrators to the economically vulnerable and needy sections of the country with their presence in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Fin-tech unicorn- Zerodha has announced plans to provide step-down hospitals and fully-equipped ambulances in the cities of Mumbai and Bangalore. Pledging their support to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and State Governments, Uber has committed towards providing free rides worth Rs. 10 crores to facilitate the vaccination of the vulnerable and disadvantaged elderly across 19 cities. For the procurement of 1000+ oxygen concentrators across hospitals, Mi India has pledged Rs. 3 crores as well as is raising Rs. 1 crore in a partnership with GiveIndia to support Covid Warriors. As a part of its “Oxygen for India” initiative, the fintech decacorn Paytm aims to raise Rs. 10 crores, allowing its users to contribute towards the cause on their platform, and also import 3000 oxygen concentrators. Amazon, joining hands with ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation and Pune Platform for Covid-19 Response (PPCR) has offered to bear the entire costs to airlift over 8000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore through Air India and other international carriers. MediBuddy- a digital healthcare platform introduced a ‘Covid-19 Hospital Bed Availability Checker’ on their app which assists users locate available beds in nearby hospitals. With an immense backlog in the RT-PCR testing, Mylab Discovery Solutions plans to deploy 50 ICMR-approved and NABL certified mobile testing labs across the country, with 2 labs already functional in Mumbai and 3 others to be deployed this week. Renowned food discovery and delivery platform- Zomato has tied up with Delhivery to raise Rs. 50 crores to source oxygen concentrators and related supplies through its NPO arm- Feeding India. With a crippling transport problem, Tata Group has announced that it will be importing 24 cryogenic containers to transport liquid oxygen, whereas Tata Steel would be supplying 200-300 tons of medical-grade liquid oxygen to various hospitals across the country. Keeping their efforts high, Delhivery will also be providing logistical support for importing oxygen concentrators from China at minimal cost. To ensure a hassle free and timely supply of oxygen in Uttar Pradesh, Rodic Consultant Pvt. Ltd has developed a digital portal which monitors and tracks the vehicles assigned with the task to supply oxygen to the government and private hospitals. The Indian dating app- TrulyMadly has launched a plasma matchmaking feature on its ‘Corona Clusters Platform’ which allows Covid-19 positive patients to be matched with plasma donors based on their blood group, diagnosis date and location. And lastly, Renewable-energy startup- Exalta with their innovation- ‘Solar Oxygen Tree’, which uses regenerative energy to produce oxygen, and building on this technology, they have launched mini oxygen concentrators which range between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 40,000 which can be used by individuals, healthcare organizations and nursing homes.

With India adding 3.86 lakh cases every single miserable day, all the help that can be secured is thankful for, and with the companies coming up with new initiatives to help control the spread while also providing support in other aspects such as oxygen procurement and vaccination drives, it gives us the glimmer of hope that the distressing situation that India is in today will be under control without the loss of too many invaluable lives of citizens. 



I am an avid reader and have a passion for writing. Being a law student coming from a commerce background, I have a flair for learning about the dynamic legal and business fraternity, as well as becoming an entrepreneur myself. Innovation, creativity, and hard work are the sole drivers to growth and is my mantra for life.


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