A year after the second wave of Covid-19, a mixed bag of learnings

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A year after the second deadly wave of Covid-19 last May, some healthcare practices have seen long-term adoption, while other areas still have some way to go.

The increased adoption of digital health care, improved access to essential medicines and the expansion of diagnostic services capacities are, for example, positive results. But more work is needed on open access to real-time information and data on hospital beds and other medical essentials in addition to death records and patient documentation.

During the second wave of Gujarat, the Association of Hospitals and Nursing Homes of Ahmedabad (AHNA) saw a free flow of information on the daily availability of beds for intensive care, oxygen or beds general, etc., via its website. Other civic bodies operated similar information platforms, but they did not map the reality on the ground.

Bharat Gadhavi, President of AHNA, told Business Line: “Information sharing is a key issue that requires special attention during a pandemic like this. This is an area that requires a robust system. real-time information sharing on health facilities.

In Kerala, for example, lessons learned from the Nipah virus outbreak did not help authorities much.

Experts noted that the only saving grace was that the case fatality rate associated with the Nipah virus at 40-80% was not as high with Covid. The latter needed a much higher level of preparation from the state Department of Health. The vaccination campaign and acquired natural immunity against large-scale infections from May last year could have given the department valuable experience in fighting the fourth wave, should it occur.

The shortage of oxygen and ventilators across the country had caused panic at the height of the second wave. Noting the severe shortage of oxygen, the Center announced the establishment of oxygen plants using pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology in district hospitals. The private sector is also increasing its production capacity of ventilators, hitherto imported.

Vadodara-based Max Ventilator ramped up ventilator production during the second wave. The company is ready to meet any increase in demand and any type of fans required for any unforeseen situation. Last year, demand for ventilators increased 15-fold. During the year, the company innovated high-flow oxygen therapy (HFOT) devices that improve survival chances and drive costs operating times than a traditional fan.

Ashok Patel, CEO and Founder, has also reduced import dependency and increased local sourcing by supporting local component producers. “We have now started manufacturing our own compressors and main circuit boards. Moreover, we even help local manufacturers to produce components that we previously bought from outside the country. Now we ensure that 75% of our components are sourced locally in the country,” he said.

Digital adoption

Ameera Shah, MD of Metropolis Diagnostics Player and Vice President of NatHealth, commented, “There are now great capacities built for covid testing. With this capacity, there is more capacity to do molecular biology testing across the country.

Shah adds that, for the first time, consumers began to expect technological activation in healthcare because there was no way to interact through a physical format. And that led to the markets opening up to huge funds that started pouring in for health tech players. For the industry, the use of technology upstream, i.e. for consumer engagement, and upstream for processes and systems, is an important lesson to be learned.

The second wave had also seen drug abuse amid panic. “There was panic when the demand increased because everyone wanted medicine immediately. Some were prescribed by a doctor, others bought by themselves,” said Ankur Agarwal, co-founder of generic drug retail chain Medkart.

He noted that the nature and type of drugs prescribed between the second and third waves differed significantly. Popular Covid drugs such as ivermectin, favipiravir or remdesivir were not seen again in the third wave after it was realized that some of them were being misused. Regarding the panic-driven drug demand, Agarwal notes that it could happen when there are more cases and higher demand. “The sharper the spike, the greater the chance of a supply disruption for all those specific molecules. But while we’ve learned a lesson from the second wave, we don’t know if we’re better suited to handle a similar situation. if it reproduces.

Published on

May 22, 2022

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