Mumbai: Low-cost ventilators manufactured by a Noida based startup have found themselves in another controversy with regards to their functionality. The AgVa ventilator, self-claimed as the world's most affordable ventilator, manufactured by AgVa Healthcare is reportedy being shunned by doctors at Mumbai's JJ Hospital and St George hospital.
The Mumbai Mirror in a report quoted doctors as saying that the ventilators did not provide 100 percent oxygenation to serious patients. The doctors also alleged that one of the ventilator failed within "five minutes of being plugged in."
Nearly 81 ventilators priced at Rs 2.5 lakhs each and donated by NGOs were reported as having failed to win the trust of doctors. These doctors claimed that FIO2 levels did not increase to desired levels. Fraction of Inspired Oxygen is a level used to determine concentration of oxygen in the air that a patient breathes.
The report also cites the statement from AgVa. The company observed their ventilators as a major workhorse across ICUs in the country. "In the current version, oxygen is manually regulated. In the more advanced version, it is done automatically. In both ventilators, you can reach anywhere between 21-100 percent FiO2... It's like having an automatic gearbox in your car. Both manual and automatic gears do the same work, but you have to work slightly to run the manual gearbox," read the statement.
Prime Minister Modi had sought support for domestic manufacturers, emphasizing 'Vocal for Local'. In the case of AgVa, the vocal aspect has been the flurry of complaints.
Controversy for AgVa Healthcare was reported the first time on May 16 with a clinical evaluation committee stating the need for a further technical validation for a mass-procurement exercise as part of PM-Cares.
Two days later, in what appeared as a setback for domestic manufacturers, an anesthetist from a medical college near Ahmedabad was quoted in a PTI report as saying that ventilators indigenously manufactured by AgVa healthcare and Dhaman-1 were not offering "desired results."
A detailed clinical evaluation report dated June 1 by a committee of doctors green-signalled mass-purchase of AgVa ventilators but noted that the devices should not "be considered as a replacement for high-end ventilators" in tertiary care ICUs. The evaluation committee also asked hospitals using AgVa ventilators to have a backup ventilator.
AgVa ventilators have been selected to be donated to hospitals across the country as part of the PM-Cares exercise. Rs 2,000 crores were to be spent in procuring 50,000 such ventilators. AgVa was to supply 10,000 such units while Bharat Electronics was to supply the majority or 30,000. The remaining units were to be supplied by AMTZ and Allied Medical. The ventilator donation exercise resulted in a furore after it was revealed that only 1,340 ventilators of the 2,923 manufactured made their way to a hospital.
Automotive major Maruti Suzuki had collaborated with AgVa to improve production. MSIL's assembly line expertise is attributed as the reason for AgVa's capacity of 700 ventilators a day.