There have been media reports recently that have alleged that the “Centre kept 13,000 unused Ventilators During COVID Second Wave Crisis”. The report states that the Government had an inventory of 13,000 ventilators and that these were not delivered to the States.
It is clarified that the media report is less than adequately informed and is without any basis. There are no ventilators that have been kept in the inventory by the Central Government and not given to States that needed them. Every lot of ventilators which is ready for dispatch is getting dispatched to the States/ UTs promptly. Therefore, the observations and interpretations drawn in the article are not based on the facts.
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had placed the order for procurement of ventilators at the beginning of the pandemic itself. The orders were placed between 27th March and 17th April 2020 for procurement of 58,850 ventilators. These were all Make-In-India ventilators considering the fact that there was a minimum possibility of sourcing imported ventilators from abroad in view of the fact that the global demand of ventilators had increased and the ventilator manufacturing countries had also imposed export restrictions.The domestic capacity of manufacturing ventilators was very limited and these manufacturers were encouraged to ramp up production, which they carried out by sourcing technology as well as undertaking tie ups with companies who could assist them in augmenting the production.
Based on the recommendations of the Empowered Group-III meant for ensuring adequate supply of essential medical devices, these procurement orders were placed by the Central Government.
After the ventilator models got technically examined and validated by the Committee of Experts under Director-General of Health Services, these were recommended for supplies to the States/UTs.The supplies were made as per the demand received from States/ UTs. The demand from the States for ventilators received till September 2020 was addressed through supplies. Thereafter negligible additional requirement was projected by the States. Till November 2020, the almost the entire quantity of ventilators demanded by the States had been delivered i.e., 35,398 ventilators.From November till March 2021, an additional supply of ventilators was only 996 since the additional demand for ventilators was this much only.
Even out of the above-supplied ventilators, a large number of ventilators remained un-installed in the States and even lying in their warehouses. Considering the fact that States did not allocate them to the hospitals in view of no demand, Union Health Secretary on 11.04.2021 addressed a letter to a few States requesting them to expedite the installation of ventilators, and for projecting additional requirements of ventilators if any in view of the recent surge in cases. Subsequently, the Union Health Ministry reminded the States/UTs multiple times.
The interpretation drew in the article that the Central Government built up the inventory and did not supply 13000 ventilators is factually incorrect. Since there was no demand from the States, no supply schedule was given to the manufacturers. The manufacturers are required to assemble the ventilators based on the demand projected to them within the quantity of overall orders given to them. Every unit of ventilators are required to be assembled, calibrated, tested and quality checked and pre-dispatched inspected before the ventilator is actually supplied to States.