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#StartupsVsCovid19: Founders Crowdfunding INR 5 Cr To Help Meet India’s Oxygen Demand

#StartupsVsCovid19: Founders Crowdfunding INR 5 Cr To Help Meet India’s Oxygen Demand

A group of entrepreneurs leading crowdfunding efforts has already raised INR 3 Cr to import oxygen concentrators

Amid shortage of oxygen tanks, concentrators are seeing high demand but manufacturers warn about a supply crunch

Orders for 400 concentrators have already been placed and the group is trying to close 1,000 by Saturday evening

Amid a severe shortage of oxygen in Delhi-NCR hospitals, a group of startup founders called Gurgaon Entrepreneurs have launched a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of procuring oxygen concentrators. 

The group has collected INR 3 Cr to source concentrators from China, with donations pouring in from the startup community and celebrities such as Taapsee Pannu.the initial goal was to raise INR 2.5 Cr for 500 concentrators. The other entrepreneurs who are leading the efforts through this community are Snehil Khanor of TrulyMadly, Mansha Kaur of Heart On My Sleeve, Hubhopper founder Gautam Raj Anand, Rahul Agarwal and Varun Agarwal of Designhill, Rahul Hari of Satvacart, Uday Anand of Mycrushfit,  Gautam Ghai of Sourcefuse, Cuttlfish founder Shikher Gupta, among others.

The campaign is looking to raise INR 5 Cr through crowdfunding platform Ketto and is still looking for individuals to contribute to the efforts. 

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Varun Agarwal, whose family trust Democracy People Foundation started the initiative, said that orders for 400 concentrators have already been placed and the group is trying to close 1,000 by  Saturday evening (April 24). “The Chinese are going on a holiday from May 1 and so we have to do everything we can this week itself. We are trying to arrange a charter plane and are coordinating with logistics startup Delhivery and a few other folks for delivery,” he said. 

Agarwal added that the concentrators being procured have 10 litres per minute capacity, which are currently unavailable in India.

Oxygen Concentrators In Demand Amid Supply Bottlenecks

Over the past two weeks, Delhi-NCR hospitals have been running short of oxygen for Covid patients as the number of new cases reported have shot up to almost 30,000 per day. On Friday (April 23), the national capital saw 306 Covid deaths and over 26,000 new cases being reported. 

Even as hospitals have declared publicly that they don’t have enough oxygen to treat patients, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has requested the central government to increase the state’s daily quota for oxygen from the current 480 tonnes to 700 tonnes.  

According to a Business Today report, at full capacity, India’s daily oxygen production far outpaces the volume supplied. At current rate, daily medical oxygen consumption is only 54% of production capacity on April 12, 2021. The reason why patients who require urgent oxygen support are unable to get it is an acute shortage of cylinders and cryogenic tankers to transfer the liquid gas from plants to hospitals. This means that even though the scarcity of oxygen is largely due to the supply bottlenecks. 

In the absence of oxygen tanks, oxygen concentrators have become critical for those who require assistance. While both oxygen cylinders and concentrators help patients breathe more freely through an oxygen mask, the difference lies in the fact that cylinders need to be refilled whereas concentrators collect atmospheric air, concentrate it and process the oxygen from this.

A look at listings of oxygen concentrators on IndiaMART shows that their price ranges from INR 26,000 to over INR 2 Lakh depending on the brand and concentration capacity. According to an ET report, concentrators are in short supply and the two largest producers in India — Philiips and BPL — are out of stock. They told the publication that they don’t expect fresh supplies to the market to resume before a fortnight.