As non-severe Covid-19 patients continue to be sent home due to existing guidelines on the outbreak, and fears about infections in health facilities escalate, sales data show sharp increases in the demand for oximeters, infrared thermometers, inhalers and other home medical checkup devices.
Consumer demand for pulse oximeters increased by 23 times, and demand for infrared thermometres rose by 26 times on Flipkart over the past six months, a spokesperson said.
On one of the country’s largest online pharmaceutical platforms, 1mg, pulse oximeters were averaging sales in the hundreds in May. They surged to 15 times that in June. Pulse oximeters are clip devices used on the fingers or ears to easily test oxygen levels, or saturation, in the blood.
On Thursday, the Centre eased home isolation rules in what had become a significant flashpoint between it and the Delhi government. Revising its May 10 guidelines, the Centre has extended home isolation options to asymptomatic, mild and pre-symptomatic cases.
Other medical devices such as glucometers (which read the level of glucose in the blood) and inhalers also saw a spike of 90 per cent and 80 per cent, respectively, on 1mg medicine store in May.
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The company told The Indian Express that oxygen concentrators are also in high demand but suffer from “significant supply issues”.
Immunity supplements, which were already being sold in the low-to-medium thousands, have seen a 20 per cent month-by-month increase for the last three months. Chyawanprash, giloy, kadha and ashwagandha saw a 25 per cent month-by-month growth in that time.
“No categories are slowing down post the spikes, so high levels of consumption are continuing for Covid solutions,” 1mg founder Prashant Tandon said.
“With the Covid-19 pandemic necessitating the use of products such as thermometers and scanners… we are witnessing an increasing demand for the same,” the Flipkart spokesperson said, adding thermal scanners have also seen spikes in sales.
Google search trends show that interest in oximeters began rising at the start of May and reached a search popularity of 100 on June 27. The popularity number represents its search interest relative to other terms in India. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are showing the highest relative interest levels. Searches about oximeters surpassed even hand sanitisers beginning June 22. Thermal scanners reached 100 in terms of search interest in India on May 18.
“The patient shall agree to monitor his health and regularly inform his health status to the District Surveillance Officer, who will facilitate further follow up by the surveillance teams,” the new guidelines by the Centre state, highlighting serious signs such as difficulty in breathing or a dip in oxygen saturation below 95 per cent.
In addition to people who tested positive for Covid-19, those who recently travelled are also required in many states to home isolate and monitor their symptoms. The protocols for this were handed over to the states in late May.
A week ago, the Delhi government also announced government-supplied oximeters to those under home isolation, with concerns that oxygen levels can fall suddenly.
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