Kochi: The deadly surge in COVID-19 cases in the country has made oxygen-related equipment costlier.
Pulse oximeter, a non-invasive device to estimate the oxygen level in the blood, now costs 10 times more than its price during the pre-surge days. The price of oxygen concentrator, meant for the bedridden, has tripled in April alone. Additionally, there is a shortage of the device.
The costs of vaporizer and thermometer, too, have increased. Meanwhile, a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided to waive the basic customs duty and health cess on the import of medical-grade oxygen and related equipment for three months with immediate effect.
The device was priced at Rs 300 before the pandemic, but its price increased to Rs 3,000 during the first wave. Though it went back to the earlier price, the device became costlier from the beginning of April, and it now costs Rs 1,200 to Rs 4,000.
Additionally, oximeters have run out of stock in several medical stores. Though it could be purchased online for Rs 1,300 onwards, its delivery is often delayed.
The government should immediately intervene to regulate the price of oxygen-related equipment, as it had earlier done in the case of sanitizers. The government should also ensure its quality.
P V Tomy, President, All Kerala Chemists and Druggists’ Association (Ernakulam)
The supply to Kerala has stopped due to the high demand for oxygen concentrators in Mumbai and Delhi. A Kochi resident, who tried to buy one the other day, was asked to shell out Rs 1 lakh for the equipment, which earlier could have procured for Rs 35,000.
Though hospitals have been demanding the equipment, distributors said it has been out of stock. The device concentrates the oxygen from a gas supply by selectively removing nitrogen.