Oxygen shortage: India gasping for air as Covid-19 cases surge

Dr Shrikant Raje, Julia Sieger and Peter O'Brien
Dr Shrikant Raje, Julia Sieger and Peter O'Brien © FRANCE 24

In this edition, we speak to Dr Shrikant Raje, the head of a hospital in Hyderabad. He tells us how his hospital is now using oxygen concentrators as an alternative to liquid medical oxygen (LMO). This as India battles a deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Amid a crippling shortage of oxygen in several states across India, the government has set up a train to help deliver the life-saving gas. Dubbed the Oxygen Express, it is travelling through some of the most hard-hit areas, carrying tankers of liquefied medical oxygen. Since the second wave began in early February, India has recorded at least 35,000 Covid-19 deaths, but hasn't kept a record of deaths that are specifically due to an oxygen shortage.

We talk to Dr Shrikant Raje, a radiologist and head of a hospital in Hyderabad, about how he is now using oxygen concentrators as an alternative to liquid medical gas. He also describes the so-called oxygen chain, whereby the life-saving gas is manufactured in large plants using cryogenic distillation techniques to compress atmospheric air, then fed into distillation columns to get liquid medical oxygen (LMO). This then needs to be transported and stored, raising many challenges along the way. 

Our tech editor Peter O'Brien also tells us about innovators who are helping mitigate the crisis in India.

Finally, we learn about NFC or near-field communication. You probably already use it to pay for things and take public transport, but it has a lot of other uses as well, from fighting fires in China to waking you up in the morning.

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