Chemists from the city state that there has been a surge in the demand for oximeters, a device used to measure the level of oxygen in the blood, since the end of June. Since the lack of oxygen in one’s body is seen as a major symptom of novel coronavirus, people have been increasingly using the device to monitor oxygen saturation level in their body while at home.
Narendra Gupta, the owner of Gupta Medicos in Sector 15, says that earlier there was no demand for oximeters, but since the beginning of July, he has been selling at least two oximeters a day. “We must have roughly sold around 10 to 20 oximeters in the past one week, when no one used to ask for these before. The richer and more educated class has become aware of the use of the oximeter and is making a demand for them,” Gupta says.
“We never used to stock these before, and now we have already run out of our stock as three people bought it this morning,” says the shopkeeper from Garg Pharmaceuticals, who adds they are selling oximeters for Rs 1,700 per device. Another chemist store owner from Sector 16 says that he has sold 40 oximeters since June 28 while there was no demand for the device until the end of May.
The particular oximeter in demand is the user-friendly pulse oximeter, which can be used by clipping the small device on one’s finger. The device has an attached digital screen which provides the percentage of oxygen saturation in one’s body, which should not dip below 90 per cent in a healthy body. The device is now recognised as an essential self-care item for those isolating themselves with COVID symptoms. If one’s oxygen level falls drastically, they are advised to seek medical care immediately, because a lack of oxygen is recognised as a more severe symptom of COVID-19. In Delhi, CM Arvind Kejriwal announced, the government will issue oximeters to all COVID-19 patients in home isolation to enable them to monitor their symptoms.
Price ranges between Rs 1,500 and Rs 1.800
According to the chemists in Chandigarh, the price for the most commonly sold pulse monitor from the brand Accu-Chek ranges between Rs 1,500 and Rs 1,800 in the city, making it affordable for people from middle- to high-income groups. “It costs around Rs 1,100 to procure and people sell it for up to Rs 1800 here in the city,” says Vinay Jain, who heads the Chandigarh Chemists’ Association. “We used to sell the Chinese brands as well which are a little costlier, but now this is the most popular brand,” Jain adds.
As for whether it is necessary to procure an oximeter for those isolating themselves at home, a doctor from PGIMER’s virology department states that it isn’t so. “If it makes you feel like you are in control of the situation then go ahead, but this is not necessarily a symptom for COVID, so it might just add to the paranoia, and this paranoia feeds the pharmaceutical market well,” the doctor says.
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