Doctors are now shifting treatment protocol for Covid-19 at hospitals and invasive ventilation is not being preferred
From a mere 300 ventilators per month in March 2020, India’s ventilator making capacity touched a whopping 30,000 units by July
A gradual decline in critical Covid-19 cases and a shift in the treatment protocol by doctors have prompted ventilator manufacturers in the country to look for other ways to utilise their capacities.
From a mere 300 ventilators per month in March 2020, India’s ventilator making capacity touched a whopping 30,000 units by July.
This had led to foray into ventilator manufacturing by non-medical device players like Rajkot-based Jyoti CNC.
It also resulted in conventional players adding capacities to meet the demand surge.
However, doctors are now shifting treatment protocol for Covid-19 at hospitals and invasive ventilation is not being preferred.
“Around 55,000 ventilators were sold during the pandemic and my estimate is that much of it is not utilised. I have been to hospitals to check the status of usage, and I feel around 20,000 units are not in use. The treatment protocol for Covid-19 has shifted and ventilators are no longer the preferred mode,” said V Alva, founder and managing director (MD), Skanray Technologies.
As a result, ventilator manufacturers are now looking at innovative ways to utilise capacities, including repurposing them or tapping the overseas markets.
For instance, Vadodara-based Max Ventilators has not only expanded its manufacturing capacity to 12,000 ventilators per annum but is also foraying into other medical devices to tap the export market.
“Currently, patient monitoring systems are being imported from China and high-end ones from Europe, mainly Germany. India doesn’t have many manufacturers although it is a must in an ICU. We are gradually developing technology that is building blocks for such systems. In the next 6 months, we will hopefully have indigenous systems,” said Max Ventilators MDAshok Patel.
Apart from expanding the conventional pneumatic-driven ventilator manufacturing capacity, the company is also looking to add turbine driven ventilators as well as hi-flow oxygen therapy devices.
The other way that Max Ventilators intends to use its capacity is through anaesthesia workstations.
Similarly, Ahmedabad-based conventional ventilator manufacturer Lifeline Biz, which is also
witnessing a stabilisation in domestic demand, plans to add other devices to its kitty.
“Yes, domestic demand has stabilised now. For instance, we are utilising 70 per cent of our capacity after ramping it up during peak of the pandemic last year but we are not panicking. Going forward, we will look at export as an option. We also intend to manufacture other medical devices to continue tapping the country’s market,” said Vineet Acharya, MD of Lifeline Biz.
The company is exploring manufacturing devices like anaesthesia machines and syringe infusion pump.
Jyoti CNC, on the other hand, is in the process of getting regulatory certification from the US and Europe for its ventilators that it intends to export soon. According to Alva, Skanray, the largest ventilator manufacturer, has largely remained immune to these developments.
“We had not invested to create capacity, but had made the ventilators at Bharat Electronics (BEL) facility. So, we are not worried about the lack of demand. BEL, too, had used its electronic voting machine (EVM)-making capacity to make ventilators as EVM demand is usually seasonal. Export ban has been lifted, but China has cornered most of the world market. Thus, there is not much international demand,” added Alva.