With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic striking hard in Kerala, there has been an uptick in the demand for pulse oximeters, a device used for measuring a personâ€™s oxygen saturation level. Medical stores across the state have been running out of stock of pulse oximeters in the past few weeks. The prices saw an increase as demand went up as well. What was previously available in the open market for around Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500, now costs above Rs 2,200, after the surge in COVID-19 cases began. The price of the oximeters has increased rapidly online too, over the last few days.
Across the state, as on Wednesday, there are 2,66,646 active COVID-19 cases, with an all-time high of 35,013 cases reported on Wednesday alone. K Praveen, a stockist of pulse oximeters, said that retailers and friends have been frantically calling him, demanding oximeters. "We get our stocks from Delhi, Mumbai and at times from Bengaluru and when we speak to them, they are asking if we have unsold items, to send it to them urgently," said Praveen.
"All along we have been selling it to our retailers in the price range from Rs 900 and upwards. But for the past two weeks all the stocks have vanished. What we are told is all cargo flights from China have been stopped in the past two weeks and hence this serious situation has risen," added Praveen.
Medical shops near hospitals are the first to run out of the oximeters.
"Pulse oximeters have been in demand ever since the second wave began this year. There was a similar demand during the first wave, when the prices had increased. But the demand died down later. Now with the second wave and the demand going up, the prices have doubled in a few days. We get sold out as soon as we procure them and go out of stock. The prices fluctuate weekly. What has earlier been Rs 400 to 600 is now sold at more than Rs 1,200," said Babu AV, Chief Financial Officer of Neethi Medicals, run by Consumer Federation, an initiative to sell medicines at affordable prices.
The oximeters have been going out of stock regularly in the past two weeks, according to Ernakulam based Bharath Medicals. "It is very difficult to get them now. But we try to get a few for those with urgent needs," the owner said.
(With IANS inputs)