There is no shortage in Medical Oxygen in India: Dr Harsh Vardhan

Interacting with social media interactors on the sixth episode of Sunday Samvaad Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare urged people to religiously follow  COVID appropriate behaviour. He warned that Kerala paid price of neglecting social distancing and other precautions and epicurve of Kerala changed completely due to Onam festivities across the State, the daily new cases nearly doubled.  The Minister said this ought to serve as a good lesson for all the state government which were being negligent in planning for the festival season.

On grants to states, Dr Harsh Vardhan informed that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has already released the Phase II of the COVID Package to 33 States and Union Territories. The total amount released in the second package amounts to a total of INR 1,352 Crores. This Phase II grant has been released in tranches during the months of August, September and October 2020.

Answering a question on the discrepancy in the number of COVID-19 deaths across India, Dr Harsh Vardhan shared that the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has taken up the issue of correct certification of COVID-19 deaths with all States and UTs on multiple instances and has also shared a proper modality of reporting of deaths with them to ensure consistency in reporting of COVID-19 related deaths across India.

The Minister assured that there is no shortage in Medical Oxygen; Current oxygen production capacity of India is around 6400 MT/Day; the Government is ready to scale up the production capacity in order to meet any further increase in demand arising due to the Pandemic; The Empowered Group constituted by MHA is monitoring the requirement of medical oxygen across India; The Ministry of Health is also monitoring the availability and supply of Medical Oxygen at the field level through regular VC with State Nodal officers for oxygen as well as with Principal Secretaries or Mission directors; 1,02,400 Medical Oxygen Cylinders have been delivered to States and UTs; The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has fixed  the price of Liquid Medical Oxygen; Guidelines on ‘Rational use of Oxygen for management of COVID-19’ have also been issued.

Dr Harsh Vardhan remarked that although there are no intranasal COVID-19 vaccines under trial in India at the moment, Serum India and Bharat Biotech are expected to pursue clinical trials of such vaccines in India in the coming months on receipt of regulatory approval. He clarified that the Phase III Clinical Trial is generally with thousands of participants, sometimes even close to 30,000 to 40,000 participants. It is possible that from a specific city or hospital, couple of hundred participants are selected at a given time, but in general, the overall Phase III participant pool is much larger.