Delhi-based AgVa Healthcare, which is manufacturing indigenous ventilators for coronavirus patients, on Tuesday denied reports that its equipment had some key technical defects, ANI reported.
The defects had been flagged earlier this month by Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital. Last month, two hospitals in Mumbai had rejected the ventilators produced by the company. The reliability and capability aspects of AgVa Healthcare’s 10,000 low-cost ventilators, ordered by the Centre under the PM Cares fund, was also questioned by two government-appointed panels in a June 1 report.
“Delhi’s Lok Nayak Hospital did not reject our ventilators but it said that they did not have the BiPAP [Bilevel positive airway pressure] and CPAP [continuous positive airway pressure therapy] mode,” AgVa Healthcare’s co-founder Diwakar Vaish told ANI. “Now, LNJP has told us the ventilators have these modes. No other hospital in Delhi has complained about the ventilators.”
The staff at LNJP hospital had said that the 175 ventilators manufactured by the firm and supplied to it by the Centre were not fitted with the BiPAP mode, which allows doctors to supply oxygen to patients without inserting tubes in their airway. The hospital had asked the government to provide 250 more ventilators equipped with the technology.
In June, Mumbai’s St George and JJ Hospitals had rejected 81 “Made in India” ventilators manufactured by AgVa Healthcare after flagging technical defects. Vaish claimed the ventilators did not work properly because they were installed at the hospitals by a third party, not affiliated to AgVa Healthcare. “These ventilators were not properly installed by the third parties,” Vaish said. “They did not give proper instructions to doctors on how to use them. The hospitals said that our ventilators stopped working within five minutes of being plugged in. Our ventilators are unique and they need to be installed properly.”
Vaish also responded to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s accusation that AgVA was manufacturing sub-standard equipment and endangering the lives of patients. Gandhi had also shared a link to a report by Huffpost India that claimed AgVa manipulated its ventilators to display that they were supplying more oxygen to patients than the actual amount.
“Rahul Gandhi is not a doctor,” Vaish said. “He should have consulted the doctors and verified how ventilators are used. I am ready to give a detailed demonstration of the ventilator on any patient. The allegations about discrepancy in oxygen levels arose because people are not familiar with how we calibrate ventilators.”
Vaish also alleged that international vendors were trying to sabotage India’s efforts to manufacture indigenous ventilators. “Our ventilators cost just Rs 1.5 lakh while others are priced between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh,” he said. “Will international vendors and associations accept this?”
Last month, the Centre had allocated Rs 2,000 crore from the PM-Cares Fund for the supply of 50,000 “Made in India” ventilators to states and Union Territories amid their fight against the coronavirus. A panel of doctors, in an assessment report on June 1, had however said that the Centre could purchase the ventilators, made by Indian startup AgVa Healthcare, but advised against replacing them for high-end ventilators in intensive care units.