The global demand for oxygen concentrators, cylinders, masks, oximeters and related equipment is at an all-time high as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rip through countries and at a far worse situation than when the health crisis started.
High demand, Low supply
Global Market Insights’ report revealed that the global market size for medical oxygen concentrators is expected to reach US$5 billion by 2026 as the need for oxygen supply in critical care units becomes greater. However, the current medical oxygen supply shortage is not just crippling the healthcare industry, but also the economic landscape.
No less than the World Health Organization suggested the use of oxygen therapy devices, including concentrators, to patients in serious or critical conditions, but the supply and distribution are proving to be challenging.
Large parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America are among those hardest hit by the pandemic, with low- and middle-income countries from these regions requiring 28.3 million cubic meters of oxygen per day, according to the latest data from non-profit health organization PATH.
Why is India Running Out of Oxygen Supply?
Reports on death toll in India rising at an exponential rate in a short span of time has shocked the world and exposed deep-rooted vulnerabilities in health care systems. People are either fleeing their homes or purchasing oxygen concentrators on their own, resulting to a further increase in demand and a consequent supply shortage.
The oxygen supply shortage can be attributed to India’s lack of infrastructure and complicated logistics systems. Despite the country’s capability to product oxygen, many companies actually produce oxygen for industrial use. Also, apart from the difficulty to transport oxygen, most productions are based in areas that are a thousand miles away from major cities.
Solutions & Measures
To keep up with the surging demand, India’s Ministry of Commerce & Industry has allowed the import of personal oxygen concentrators through posts, couriers or e-commerce portals. The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, on the other hand, has directed all major ports to waive all charges for ships carrying oxygen and related equipment. The ministry has also directed the ports to prioritize the berthing sequence over the said medical and associated equipment. As for the basic customs duties, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has waived them off for critically required oxygen concentrators in order to speed up customs clearances, according to a report from The Economic Times.
India’s bold move comes not just in response to the oxygen supply shortage but also to take action against organized crime syndicates who control the illegal oxygen concentrator trade and jack up prices by as much as 1,000 percent.
Oxygen Concentrator Buyer’s Guide
Oxygen concentrators or generators are relatively inexpensive medical equipment used as alternatives for compressed gas cylinders. They are designed to collect oxygen and nitrogen in the surrounding air and quickly filter the gas to make a concentrated gas of 90 to 95 percent pure oxygen.
Oxygen concentrators come in stationary and portable types. Stationary types, which generally need to be plugged in an outlet, suit patients who need more oxygen than a portable version can provide as the former can provide more oxygen volume per minute. Portable types, meanwhile, are preferred for their flexibility and capability to run on different power sources. These units are small enough to be carried in a bag or attached to a patient’s walker or cart. They are further categorized into continuous and pulse flow, where the former delivers oxygen at a constant rate while the latter depends on the patient’s breath rate.
How to Choose the Right Oxygen Concentrator
Here are basic things that a buyer should know before sourcing oxygen concentrators:
- Oxygen Concentration – This provides for the specific percentage of pure oxygen that has been filtered and compressed within the machine. Values may vary between 87 and 99 percent. Portable concentrators do not usually need high oxygen concentrations compared to their stationary counterparts.
- Power Consumption – While it is ideal to opt for low-power units, sourcing concentrators would still be dependent on what market one is targeting. Some may need units that use more power, as prescribed by their doctors, while others would be okay with low-power types. It is also worth noting to consider the kind of power sources that a concentrator can run on.
- Flow Rate – This determines the rate at which the oxygen can travel from the machine to the patient. Some units have low flow rates while others have higher rates.
- Portability – There is a growing global market demand for portable oxygen concentrators because of their flexibility and at-home use capability.
- Noise Level – Oxygen concentrators that require more power generally make more noise than those that require lesser doses of oxygen. Some of today’s ultralow noise variants have as low as 40dB noise level, which is comparable to the noise found in a library.
Other Related Medical Products
- Oxygen Cylinders
Medical oxygen cylinders are oxygen storage vessels which can be held in a gas cylinder or in the form of a liquid oxygen. These are medically used as a breathing equipment, first-aid resuscitation and inhalation therapy.
- Oxygen Masks
Oxygen masks, which are usually made of plastic, transfer oxygen gas from a tank or bag to the lungs. These disposable medical accessories come with different features, depending on application. They come in different types such as non-rebreather, aerosol, tracheostomy masks and more. Some have a reservoir bag with check valve, and most feature elastic straps and an adjustable nose clip.
- Pulse Oximeters
Pulse oximeters are small, clip-on device that is attached usually to the fingers, toes, foot, nose, forehead or ears and measure the oxygen saturation in one’s red blood cells. They also function as pulse rate and strength monitors. Today’s models feature a slip-resistant grip, backlit and multidirectional display, and an alert function.