Doctors of St George Hospital and JJ Hospital, who received flak for turning down 81 India-made ventilators, issued a clarification saying that the machines donated by NGOs in May were not in keeping with the requirements of critical Covid-19 patients.
According to a Mumbai Mirror report, the ventilators that were given to the two hospitals were manufactured by AgVa Healthcare, a Delhi-based firm. Priced at around Rs 2.5 lakh each, the machines are believed to be one of the least expensive in the world. Given that the AgVa ventilator weighs merely 3.5 kg and its power use is relatively low, it was anticipated that less critical coronavirus patients could be shifted to their homes.
But St George Hospital and JJ Hospital have submitted negative feedback of the ventilators. St George Hospital has returned the 39 ventilators given to it, and JJ Hospital's officials have also requested that 42 machines be taken back, the report added.
In the feedback presented on June 19, the doctors of the two hospitals said that a test run revealed a variation in FiO2 — the concentration of oxygen that is taken — was more than 10 per cent.
“Also, one ventilator showed failure within 5 minutes of being plugged in. When these ventilators were tested on ICU patients, FiO2 did not increase to the desired level,” it said. The physicians noted that the AgVa ventilators did not reach the 100 per cent-mark and it further showed inconsistency in its readings.
“The maximum level of displayed FiO2 did not indicate actual level delivered as patients showed signs of desaturation up to 86 per cent,” said their report.
The doctors added that the moment the patients were shifted to other ventilators, they showed “immediate improvement in oxygen saturation”.
The doctors said that the problems were flagged to AgVa's engineers who were present at the time the ventilators were delivered on May 26.
Mumbai City Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh had helped in the delivery arrangements of the ventilators to JJ Hospital. According to Mumbai Mirror, Dr TP Lahane, who leads the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, has asked the Guardian Minister to take back the 42 ventilators given to JJ Hospital or employ them on persons that do not need ICU intervention.
AgVa Healthcare did not respond to an email query from the publication on Sunday.
The firm had, however, claimed last week the ventilators are fully operational and are fit for all ICU patients, including those suffering from Covid-19. It had further alleged that the doctors of the two hospitals had declined to conduct a test on a patient during the May 26 demonstration and had, asked for an upgraded version of the machines. AgVa had added that it could supply the upgraded ventilators to the hospitals, but said that they must use the ones provided to them till the new stocks come.
It was reported on June 23 that 3,000 of the 50,000 'Made in India' ventilators sanctioned under the PM CARES fund to help COVID-19 patients have been manufactured and over 1,300 have been delivered to various states.