The Ministry of Home Affairs has admitted that during the second wave of COVID-19, beginning April 2021, there was a “soaring demand” of life-saving medicines like remdesivir and medical oxygen for the treatment of moderate and critical patients.
According to the annual report of the home ministry for 2021-22, during the second wave of coronavirus in the country, it had coordinated with the states and Union territories and various stakeholders concerned for ensuring the supply of medical oxygen for treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19 patients. “The upsurge in COVID-19 cases, which started from April 2021, resulted in the soaring demand of medical oxygen, Remdesivir and other life-saving medicines for treatment of moderate and critical COVID-19 patients,” the report said.
The home ministry noted that it took a number of steps to ensure adequate and uninterrupted supply of essential medical oxygen as well as life-saving drugs, including remdesivir. It also coordinated the supply and hassle-free movement of medical oxygen from the oxygen plant, issued orders for restricting the use of medical oxygen for industrial purpose and pave the way for its usage for medical purpose only for COVID-19 management, the report said. The home ministry facilitated the movement of medical oxygen across the country as per the approved allocation plan, coordinated in seamless supply and transport of remdesivir and other essential medicines, coordinated lifting of high capacity tankers from abroad by the Indian Air Force transport planes, advised states/UTs to direct district collectors to take action to revive oxygen generation plants which were lying closed. These efforts ensured ready availability of oxygen at the district level, besides uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen from usual channels, the report said.
The ministry noted that it had set up a 1,000 bedded temporary hospital in Delhi after a sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases in the national capital in June, 2020 resulting in non-availability of beds in hospitals.
This hospital was again activated in the month of April, 2021 during the second wave of the pandemic.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) helped setting up two 500-bed hospitals in Patna and Muzaffarpur in Bihar and establishment of 16 RT-PCR labs in nine states/UTs from PM-CARES funds.
Two makeshift 500-bedded Covid hospitals were also set up in Jammu and Srinagar in view of the increasing number of cases in Jammu and Srinagar.
During the second wave of COVID-19, there was a massive shortage of hospital beds, life-saving drugs and medical oxygen in some parts of the country, particularly in Delhi-NCR.