To get more oxygen concentrators, Remdesivir injections and COVID-19 vaccines, India temporarily lifts customs duty and cess on imports

To get more oxygen concentrators, Remdesivir injections and COVID-19 vaccines, India temporarily lifts customs duty and cess on imports
A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen support in India at a gurudwara amid shortage at hospitalsBCCL
  • The Indian government has lifted customs duty and health cess on imports of COVID-19 relief materials like Remdesivir injection, medical grade oxygen and oxygen concentrators.
  • This comes at a time when suppliers are hesitant to place import orders due to high prices and limited supply in the global market as well.
  • Suppliers of oxygen concentrators in India say they have not placed any bulk orders, and even if they have — it will still take at least a month for the supplies to reach India’s shores.
Facing supply shortages on multiple ends, the Indian government has decided to lift the customs duty and health cess on selected imports of COVID-19 treatment materials. This includes Remdesivir injection, medical oxygen and the coveted COVID-19 vaccines.

The move is intended to make importing these supplies cheaper, so that more companies will have the incentive to place the orders. As things stand now, the shortage of supplies is a global problem. Indian importers aren’t the only ones competing to place orders for drugs and medical equipment in the race of rising COVID-19 cases.

There is public outrage with space running out in crematoriums for people to even perform last rites for the loved ones who have passed away due to COVID-19 infection. There have also been multiple reports that the government is underreporting the number of deaths to save its face, as people complain of a supply crunch in COVID-19 treatment related items — the primary need being oxygen.

Suppliers aren’t importing due to global hike in prices

The pandemic may be a humanitarian crisis but it is an opportune moment for the pharmaceutical community, who has never seen much demand for medical supplies in their lifetime. And where there is excess demand, there are rising prices.

Mohandas P, the managing director of Oxyeasy, gets his supply of oxygen concentrators from China. According to him, the prices have now doubled and the manufacturers want the company to make the full payment upfront before the supply is even in production.

“We can’t place new orders,” Mohandas P told Business Insider. “Even if I was to place an order today, the concentrators would not reach us until at least a month later.”

An employee at another oxygen concentrator company, Pulmo Oxygen Systems, told Business Insider that oxygen concentrators will only be able next month. “I have no supply until then, no concentrators are available right now,” said Fredi Davis.

Not only has India run out of oxygen concentrators at home, but it has also dried up stocks in other countries like the UAE. Expats have reportedly been sending oxygen concentrators back home as ‘gifts’.

Items exemptedExempted until...
Remdesivir injection/API31 October 2021
Beta cyclodextrin31 October 2021
Inflammatory diagnostic kits31 October 2021
Medical grade oxygen31 July 2021
Oxygen therapy related equipment such as oxygen concentrators, cryogenic transport tanks etc.31 July 2021
COVID-19 vaccines31 July 2021

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