Estimating a spike in demand for personal protective equipment and diagnostic kits in the fight against COVID-19, the central government has calculated that the country will require about 27 million N95 masks, 15 million PPEs, 1.6 million diagnostic kits, and 50,000 ventilators in next two months, The Indian Express has learnt.
According to sources, this was conveyed to industry representatives during a meeting on April 3 of the empowered group of officials on “coordinating with private sector, NGOs and international organisations”, which is headed by the NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
“Demand for 27 million N95 masks, 1.6 million testing kits and 15 million PPEs by June 2020 is estimated and actions are being taken to procure them,” sources quoted an official as saying during the meeting that was also attended by FICCI representatives.
“The demand of ventilators has been estimated to be 50,000 by June 2020. Out of these, 16,000 are already available and orders has been placed for 34,000 ventilators. To facilitate procurement of ventilators and other PPEs from abroad, MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) has been taken on board,” the official said.
Sources said the official’s comments came in response to industry representatives who wanted clarity on “the projected demand and supply environment of PPEs” and other protective gear for the next 6-12 months. The information, they said, is critical for the industry to plan and make investments.
The empowered group is one of the 11 tasked with different aspects of coordinating the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Apart from Kant, it has six other members: Principal Scientific Advisor Dr Vijayaraghavan, NDMA member Kamal Kishore, CBIC member Sandeep Mohan Bhatnagar, Additional Secretary (Home) Anil Malik, Joint Secretary in PMO Gopal Baglay, and Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Tina Soni.
The industry representatives at the meeting included: FICCI president Dr Sangita Reddy; Uday Shankar, Senior Vice President, FICCI; Mehta, Vice President, FICCI, Ashwani Channan, Honey Well; and Harsh Mahajan, Mahajan Imaging.
The government is battling to ramp up supply of critical medical equipment, and has restricted or prohibited their export in last few weeks. The latest move was a restriction on export of testing kits Saturday.
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On March 24, the government had prohibited the export of “all ventilators including any artificial respiratory apparatus or oxygen therapy apparatus or any other breathing appliance/device and sanitisers”.
Similarly, the export of surgical masks, textile raw material for masks, and coveralls, was banned with effect from March 19. It had banned the export of PPEs and masks on January 31, a day after Kerala reported the country’s first case of coronavirus.
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