Ventilator supplier rebuts allegations of poor quality
Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet on July 5, accused the Narendra Modi government of “putting Indian lives at risk” and “ensuring that public money is used to buy sub-standard products”.Updated: Jul 08, 2020 04:41 IST
Two days after former Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted that sub-standard ventilators were being procured from a private supplier under the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund distributed to hospitals, the company rebutted the allegation on Tuesday, saying it was an attempt to sabotage indigenous efforts in the battle against Covid-19.
Professor Diwakar Vaish, the owner of AgVa Healthcare, which has manufactured the ventilators, told news agency ANI, “We have not made the ventilator overnight. We have been in the market for three years. We have developed this step by step. This ventilator has all parameters that a normal ventilator has...Our ventilators are five to ten times cheaper than normal ventilators. A normal ventilator costs ₹10-20 lakh. Our ventilator is just ₹1.5 lakh. In this, international vendor nexus is very strong.”
“Just like when Indian military equipment was indigenised, there was a lot of negative reviews. The same thing is happening here. What a ₹10 lakh ventilator does, ours is doing for ₹1.5 lakh. Will international associations, international vendors accept this? That is why they are trying to sabotage,” he added.
Gandhi, in a tweet on July 5, accused the Narendra Modi government of “putting Indian lives at risk” and “ensuring that public money is used to buy sub-standard products”.
“PMCares opacity is: 1. Putting Indian lives at risk. 2. Ensuring public money is used to buy sub-standard products,” he had tweeted based on a news article that alleged AgVa ventilators “fudged” software in their product and hide poor performance.
Vaish said, “Rahul Gandhi is not a doctor. He is an intelligent man. He should have done due diligence before making such allegations. He should have consulted doctors. I am ready to give a detailed demonstration in the hospital on any patient.”
He said that doctors need to be given a demonstration of the ventilators following which the devices could be used properly. He also said that if third party installations were faulty and were done without keeping AgVa in the loop, it could result in faulty readings, which he suspected was the case in some hospitals.
The central government ordered 10,000 of the firm’s Covid-19 model ventilators from AgVa Healthcare as part of India’s response to the pandemic.
The company used to make about 50-100 ventilators a month, but with support from Maruti Suzuki India, Invest India, the national investment facilitation agency, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited and Bharat Electronics Limited, it now has a production capacity of between 5,000 and 10,000 ventilators.
The Union health ministry said in a statement that the Make in India ventilators supplied to states and union territories by the ministry of health and family welfare were meant for intensive care units.
Dr Ranjit Mankeshwar, dean of JJ Hospital, said ventilators manufactured by Delhi-based AgVa healthcare, are still lying unused at the hospital. “We have no role to play as those machines were donated by a local politician. When we observed that the machines weren’t functioning properly, we informed them to take it away,” he said.
The hospital has decided not to accept any ventilator from the manufacturer without testing. “The company wants to exchange and provide better machines but we will not accept it without testing on patients,” he added.
“The machines that were provided to us had the mode for non invasive ventilation. We did not face any problems, except for in a few machines — maybe 10 — that had some defects and were sent back to the manufacturer,” said a doctor from Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality hospital, on condition of anonymity. The hospital on Monday had increased its ventilator beds using several of the ventilators provided by the central government