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Amid warnings about Covid third wave, Pune start-up starts supplying oxygen enrichment units

Earlier this year, between March and May, the country witnessed a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, which was not only lethal but the new virus variants infected a larger population.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune |
Updated: August 25, 2021 8:53:28 am
Amid warnings about Covid third wave, Pune start-up starts supplying oxygen enrichment unitsUsing a grant supported by the Cipla Foundation, the startup has delivered 10 units each of 10 litre/minute capacity to the hospital.

A Pune-based startup, Genrich Membrane, recently provided 10 oxygen enrichment units to the Pune Municipal Corporations-run Naidu Hospital, which will be used towards treating Covid-19 patients.

Such advance preparedness comes at a time when an expert panel set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs has warned of a likely third wave of Covid-19 hitting India sometime during September and October.

Earlier this year, between March and May, the country witnessed a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, which was not only lethal but the new virus variants infected a larger population.

Using a grant by the Cipla Foundation, the start-up has delivered 10 units each of 10 litre/minute capacity to the hospital. Using the same grant, the company will provide an additional 10 units of 25 litre/minute capacity soon.

“The 10 litre/minute capacity can be used for a single patient whereas the 25 litre/minute unit can be administered to two to three patients,” said Rajendra Kharul, co-founder and director of Genrich Membrane.

In May last year, Naidu Hospital had received the first consignment of three units from the start-up, which helped save lives of Covid-19 patients during the first wave. Later, during the second wave, the company shipped its units to hospitals in other parts of Maharashtra and some were also sent to Hyderabad and Delhi, where there was a severe shortage of oxygen concentrators.

The company currently manufactures 50 to 60 units in a month and soon plans to ramp up its production to 500 units per month. “We will be able to scale up productions as per requirement,” said Kharul.

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As the name suggests, an oxygen enrichment unit uses compressed and filtered air, feeds it into the membrane cartridge which then selectively permeates only oxygen. Such oxygen-enriched air (up to 35 per cent) is made available at ambient pressure and is administered to the patients. The membrane cartridge, the makers say, is capable of blocking the passage of any virus, bacteria and particulate matter.

Supported by Venture Centre, an incubation centre of the CSIR – National Chemical Laboratory, Pune — this idea was conceived four years ago, and a design was made accordingly. Back then, the start-up was supported by a grant offered by BIRAC of the Department of Biotechnology.

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