The Delhi government has written to the Centre, saying the surplus oxygen being given to the city can be supplied to other states, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Thursday.

Sisodia said the national Capital had a requirement of 700 metric tonnes of oxygen when the number of cases was rising. He claimed that many beds in the city’s hospitals are now empty and that oxygen demand has fallen. “Looking at the bed occupancy and the present [coronavirus] admitted patients, Delhi’s requirement of oxygen has come down to 582 MT,” Sisodia said.

The deputy chief minister also thanked the Centre and the Delhi High Court for helping Delhi residents when the national Capital saw a massive surge in coronavirus cases.

He said that the daily infection has come down in Delhi. The national Capital recorded 10,400 new Covid-19 cases and the daily positivity rate stood at 14% on Thursday, according to the deputy chief minister.

Delhi had struggled to get oxygen when the second wave of the coronavirus was at its peak, with the state and Centre taking the matter to court.

Hospitals and citizens had taken to social media to seek oxygen. The shortage had led to the deaths of many patients. On May 1, 12 patients, including a doctor, died in Delhi’s Batra Hospital after oxygen ran out for more than an hour at the private facility.

On April 24, at least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died after the Jaipur Golden Hospital ran out of oxygen. A day before, 25 “sickest” coronavirus patients died overnight at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the city amid a last-minute scramble for oxygen.

Vaccine shortages

On vaccine shortages, the deputy chief minister said that the scarcity is all over the country. Sisodia said that the Centre’s decision to export vaccines to other countries when citizens in India needed the shots has caused problems. “But, I have hope that the central government working together with Indian companies will take steps to increase the [vaccine] production manifold,” he said.

He asserted that be it “vaccine politics” or not, there is a shortage of the jabs. “And [the government] should take responsibility of the shortage that if export had been stopped, there would have been no vaccine shortage.”

Sisodia had earlier to blamed the Centre for the paucity of vaccines. On Sunday, he had said that a large number of lives could have been saved if the vaccines were given to people in the country first.

“It is a heinous crime committed by the central government to sell vaccines to other countries only for its image management at a time when people were dying in our own country,” Sisodia had said.

However, on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party said the 84% of the coronavirus vaccines exported so far by the Centre were part of commercial and licensing liabilities of the two manufacturers, Serum Institute of Indian and Bharat Biotech.

India has been facing shortages of vaccines in several parts of the country as manufacturers have not been able to meet supply requirements. At least eight states have decided to float global tenders for procuring the doses as they struggle to inoculate those in the age group of 18-44, who became eligible for the shots in third phase of vaccination that rolled out on May 1.

Under the new vaccination policy, states and private hospitals have the onus of procuring vaccines for those in the 18-44 age group, from the manufacturers directly. But the policy leaves only 50% of the vaccines manufactured by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India to be used to inoculate nearly 60 crore beneficiaries in this age group. The remaining half of the stock is earmarked for the Centre to vaccinate priority groups.