Covid-19: India may run out of ventilator beds if active infections go up sharply in winter or festive season

By: |
October 26, 2020 5:32 AM

A recent study called “National Supermodel of Covid-19” indicated active cases could spike to 13 lakh if the precautions are inadequate and 26 lakh if none are taken.

However, India could still run out of ventilator beds if the active infections go up sharply either during the festive season or in winter.

To its credit the government has been able to increase hospital capacity three-fold since April. The health ministry data released last week showed oxygen (O2) supported beds have increased from 57,924 to 2,65,046 between April and October 19 whereas the number of ICU beds and ventilator beds has increased 3.3 times.

While the number of patients who need oxygen support may have risen to 57,357 on October 19, from 43,022 on September 1 it has come down from the peak of 75,098 on September 26, data from the ministry shows.

However, India could still run out of ventilator beds if the active infections go up sharply either during the festive season or in winter.

A recent study called “National Supermodel of Covid-19” indicated active cases could spike to 13 lakh if the precautions are inadequate and 26 lakh if none are taken.

Given that in cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Pune, anywhere between 3 to 5% of the active cases require ventilators, a rise in cases would pressure the infrastructure. In Delhi, for instance, ICU bed occupancy is 54% and ventilator occupancy is 62%. However, the situation is grimmer in Mumbai, where 83% of ventilators and 79% of ICU beds are occupied.

Assuming 3% of India’s population requires a ventilator, as active cases inch towards 13 lakh, as forecast by the IIT model, we could see a shortage. Also, India has adequate supplies of medical oxygen but these are concentrated, and, hence, would not be easily available to all cities.

India currently has 6,68,154 active cases and while most countries are seeing a resurgence of the virus, here infections have been declining.

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