Are people hoarding remdesivir, oxygen cylinders at home?

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot expressing concern over the shortage of remdesivir and medical oxygen, stressed on justified allotment to the states.


The second wave of the pandemic is playing havoc across the country and India has recorded more than 3.14 lakh new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday. Patients in many hospitals in the country are gasping for breath and their family members are running from pillar to post in search of oxygen cylinders, while many are searching beds in hospitals to admit their patients. A lot of hospitals in several states are running short of medical oxygen. There is shortage of oxygen and important medicines prescribed in covid-19 treatment protocol such as remdesivir, tocilizumab etc and it is forcing people to hoard these at their homes.

There has been information that many people have purchased oxygen cylinders and kept at home so that if they require they will immediately have it. Similarly, there are some people who have hoarded a few remdesivir and tocilizumb injections at home.

The union health ministry on April 19 tweeted that remdesivir is an experimental investigational drug granted emergency authorization use; it is not a lifesaving drug in covid-19 pandemic; studies do not demonstrate mortality reduction with this drug; it is to be administered only in the hospital settings and advised only to people who are moderately sick and receiving oxygen and must never be administered in home settings.

After this tweet from the Union Health Ministry, people started saying that the government is misguiding people due to shortage of remdesivir injections. They also said that if it is not a lifesaving drug then it should be removed from covid-19 treatment protocol, so that doctors do not prescribe it indiscriminately.

Some doctors feel that private hospitals are indiscriminately prescribing remdesivir injections and people are hoarding it at home along with people are also hoarding oxygen cylinders at home, but they should know that these are used on patients in hospitals and not at home.

It is to be mentioned that Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot expressing concern over the shortage of remdesivir and medical oxygen, stressed on justified allotment to the states. The centre should provide liquid medical oxygen to the states in ratio to the number infected patients. He said the allotment of remdesivir and oxygen is more to the states where the active corona cases are less.

He said that Rajasthan on April 21 was allotted 26,500 remdesivir injections whereas Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have been allotted 63,000 and 92,200 remdesivir injections respectively despite having less active cases compared to Rajasthan. Rajasthan compared to its active cases has been allotted only 27.50% injection, while Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh has been allotted 194% and 112% respectively.

With shortage of remdesivir injections, black marketing has started in many states including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi etc.

Meanwhile, search for oxygen concentrators has increased on the internet. With the shortage of oxygen, people are searching for oxygen concentrators, but it is also short in supply.

Oxygen Concentrator is a device that concentrates the oxygen from the atmosphere by filtering nitrogen and other gases. The devices available in 5-10 litres per minute flow capacities cost Rs 25,000-60,000.  Experts say that oxygen concentrators should be used under the supervision of doctors.  They also said that oxygen concentrators cannot be a replacement for oxygen or a ventilator.

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