India: What do we know about its Covid crisis?

India: What do we know about its Covid crisis?

With India enduring a critical second wave of Covid-19, the country’s oxygen supply, hospital beds capacities and economic recovery are all being severely challenged.

Here’s what we know so far of the country’s escalating Covid crisis.

Confirmed cases

  • According to John Hopkins University, at the time of writing confirmed cases in India total more than 15 million.
  • The country has surpassed Brazil in terms of cases and is second only to the US (31 million) in its rising infection numbers.
  • There have also been almost 179,000 fatalities recorded, and rising.
  • As many as 1,600 deaths were recorded on Saturday (17th April) alone.
  • A new variant of the virus is thought to be driving the current spread of Covid that’s overwhelming hospitals and healthcare facilities.
  • Bed shortages have forced emergency hospitals and help centres to be established in local halls, hotels and even train stations.

Medical oxygen

  • According to gasworld Business Intelligence, India has an estimated installed oxygen production capacity of around 65,000 tonnes per day (2020/2021). This is the total amount of oxygen that can be produced at all oxygen facilities in India.
  • ‘Normal’ medical oxygen demand was around 1,600 – 1,700 tonnes per day (tpd) in the period from 2016-2019 and before the pandemic.
  • Due to Covid-related oxygen demand that first appeared in 2020, oxygen consumption in India’s hospitals rocketed to around 10-12,000 tpd in 2020 and is expected to be around 8-10,000 tpd in 2021.

Oxygen and steel

  • Steel plants in India are currently diverting oxygen supply to medical locations where the gas is needed. According to gasworld Business Intelligence estimates, India produced 99.6 million tonnes of steel in 2020, which requires roughly 25-30,000 tpd of oxygen.
  • Steel-related plants are able to produce 45-47,000 tpd. However, it should be remembered that oxygen plants are often operating below their maximum production capacity. In gasworld calculations, we usually take 75-80% average utilisation rates.
  • Steel plants operating at 75% of available capacity, will produce around 35,000 tpd – up to 5-10,000 tpd higher than steel production demand.
  • Plants operating at an 80% utilisation rate would produce around 10-12,000 tpd excess. At a 90% utilisation rate, this equates to around 15-18,000 tpd of excess capacity.


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