CHENNAI: “We expected a rise in oxygen support during the third wave, but it did not happen. Though there was a surge in cases, the numbers suddenly began to drop. The O2 support used was around 80-85 metric tons. Now, after the third wave, only 60 metric tons of O2 is required, which was the situation during the pre-COVID times,” Deepak Jacob, MD, Tamil Nadu Medical Service Corporation Limited (TNMSC).
And the requirement hasn’t increased over the last 3-4 months. However, at least 125 KL of oxygen and 162 Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) tanks have been kept ready in the State.
During the first wave in 2020, awareness about the disease was meagre. Though severity peaked in the second wave in 2021, lack of availability of beds, medicines and O2 support, exacerbated the problem. “At the time, we had no clue how the next wave would pan out. But we learnt a lot managing the first 2 waves. Those lessons have prepared us well to handle the situation now,” explained the official at the health department.
As second wave was all about oxygen availability, the usage of PSA-type O2 plants was high. Post second wave, the State currently has 260 PSA plants at all healthcare centres, of which government hospitals have 175 and private hospitals 85 plants.
A total number of over 25,000 oxygen cylinders are in stock in Tamil Nadu. The official stated that the numbers are expected to go up.
Commenting on the availability of drugs, Deepak said, “Remdesivir, Tocilizumab and Amphotericin B which were used during the second and third wave are in stock. With cases spiking, we ensured the drugs are maintained for the next three months. Though chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were not used much, we have stock of those as well.”