NEW DELHI: The group of ministers on Covid-19, headed by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has recommended allowing export of made-in-India ventilators to foreign countries in need of the crucial medical equipment.
The Union Health Ministry said on Saturday that it had sent the proposal to the GOM which was approved and has now been communicated to the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for further action.
The decision, said the ministry, was taken as the Covid-19 related case fatality rate has been declining and has now come down to 2.15%. On Friday, the government had said that of over 5 lakh active Covid-19 patients—only 1,579 were on ventilators.
Additionally, there has been substantial growth in the domestic manufacturing capacity of ventilators,” said the ministry in the statement. “Compared to January 2020, there are presently more than 20 domestic manufacturers for ventilators.”
The export prohibition and restriction on ventilators was imposed in March this year to ensure domestic availability to effectively fight Covid-19. “Now with export of ventilators having been allowed, it is hoped that domestic ventilators would be in a position to find new markets for Indian ventilators in foreign countries,” the government said.
The Centre had planned to supply 50,000 low-cost indigenously developed ventilators to states made by at least 5 companies, but it's not clear how many of these were eventually sent.
Initially, some states had complained about the quality of the ventilators, but the health ministry had sought to dismiss the concerns saying the medical devices fulfilled all the stipulated technical specifications.
Ventilators are required by those Covid-19 patients who are in a severe stage of illness when the virus damages the lungs badly. Initially, it was being estimated that ventilators will be a crucial tool to fight the epidemic. However, not more than 2% of the total active cases have required ventilators so far through the course of the pandemic in India.