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Startups, corporates step up to fight the second wave of COVID-19 in India

Written by Moulishree Srivastava Published on   4 mins read

Beginning April, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased exponentially resulting in an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders, beds, and medicines.

As India reels under the second wave of coronavirus, creating yet another record of 350,000 new daily infections on April 25, a slew of startups and corporates have come forward to lend a helping hand to aid the situation in the country.

Beginning April, the number of cases of COVID-19 cases has increased exponentially resulting in an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders, needed for the treatment of patients in the country. This has strained the Indian healthcare system and led to an increasing number of deaths due to COVID-19.

Several startups including food delivery giant Zomato and fintech major Paytm have pledged to donate oxygen concentrators to hospitals across the country. Oxygen concentrators, that isolate oxygen present in the air from other gases, have emerged as the best alternative to oxygen cylinders.

Through its not-for-profit arm Feeding India, Zomato has partnered with logistics startup Delhivery to raise a donation of INR 50 crore (USD 6.7 million) to provide hospitals and patients with oxygen concentrators and related supplies for free. So far, they have raised INR 11.75 crore (USD 1.5 million).

“Zomato Feeding India, our not-for-profit has kickstarted the “Help Save My India” endeavor today in association with @delhivery to source oxygen concentrators and related supplies to help hospitals and families in need,” Deepinder Goyal, co-founder, Zomato, said in a tweet on Sunday.

Delhivery is also gearing up to fly two charter flights to help importers get oxygen concentrators and other COVID-19 related relief resources in the country.

“We’ve been getting a lot of queries for the import of essential items and could see that there is a shortage of air cargo capacity, especially from China. To tackle this, we’ve decided to place our own charters temporarily, in collaboration with our airline partners,” Sandeep Barasia, chief business officer and managing director, Delhivery told local media Mint.

“We are going to fly these charters at subsidized prices to ensure that a capacity crunch on air freight does not delay or make the logistics of these essential items prohibitive,” he said. “Besides the air movement, we will also help with local movement at both ends and assist with customs clearance, again through partners, in India.”

Similarly, Paytm has internally raised INR 2 crore to source 10,000 oxygen concentrators. According to a report by local media Economic Times, the company plans to take this number to 30,000 through donations from consumers to help ease the oxygen crisis in the country.

“India needs your help with #OxygenShortage. We have sourced supplies of different size of oxygen concentrators. We want to double the count we order & bring here,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder, Paytm, said in a tweet on Sunday.

According to the company’s blog, Paytm Foundation is raising INR 10 crore (USD 1.3 million) to donate oxygen concentrators across India. It said the company will match the contributions received through this initiative and use the funds to give oxygen concentrators to hospitals.

Xiaomi India has also pledged INR 3 crores to procure over 1,000 oxygen concentrators for hospitals across states, Manu Kumar Jain, vice president, Xiaomi and managing director, posted on LinkedIn late last week.

Last year when India was under the lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19, a slew of startup founders and investment funds including Accel, Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Kalaari Capital, and LetsVenture started Action Covid-19 Team Grants (ACT Grants). Its aim was to provide grants to startups working on ideas that can solve the global healthcare crisis.

This year, ACT Grants has again sprung to action and is raising INR 75 crore for home health management, oxygen solutions, vaccinations, and supplement medical workforce, the ET report said. The report added that the ACT Grants team has already raised INR 50 crore in less than 24 hours. Amid the healthcare crisis, ACT has teamed up with not-for-profit healthcare organization Swasth to distribute oxygen concentrators across India.

Bigger Indian corporates like Tata Group and Reliance, on their part, have also come forward to supply oxygen to hospitals across the country.

Last week, salt-to-software major Tata said it would import 24 cryogenic containers to transport liquid oxygen and help ease the oxygen shortage in the country. The first set of four such cylinders arrived in India on April 24 from Singapore, the company said on social media.

On Monday, the group’s subsidiary Tata Steel tweeted that it has increased supplies of liquid medical oxygen to 500-600 tonnes per day with increased logistics support.


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“We are closely working with GoI [Government of India] and states to augment the availability and save lives,” it added.

Earlier this month, Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries made adjustments at the world’s biggest refining complex which it runs in Jamnagar, an industrial city in Western state of Gujarat, to produce medical grade oxygen at scale so as to ease out its shortage in Maharastra, the worst affected state in the country.

Eknath Shinde, Minister of Urban Development and PWD (Public Undertakings) in Maharashtra, in a tweet said the western state will get 100 tonnes of gas from Reliance. Reportedly, Reliance is currently supplying oxygen to Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh as well.


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