Medikabazaar, India's largest business-to-business (B2B) online marketplace for medical devices, has said it has witnessed a 50-60 percent surge in enquiries as hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are stocking up on medical goods.
"So at this point in time it is all about gearing themselves against infection control, hospitals are also looking at ventilators, oxygen therapy support. For example, if they have one ventilator, they are looking to add one. They are preparing to deal with COVID-19 cases," Vivek Tiwari, co-founder and CEO of Medikabazaar, told Moneycontrol.
The company, however, is facing challenges in delivering medical supplies.
"FedEx and DHL are completely non-functional at this point of time and other courier services are not taking the risk to operate," he said.
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Most medical devices are imported from China, Taiwan and South Korea.
Tiwari said the company has been closely working with industry bodies and the government to procure the medical goods lying at Chinese airports.
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In India, Medikabazaar is relying on its own fleet of about hundred riders to deliver supplies to hospitals. The company plans to increase the fleet to more than 500 riders by the end of this year.
Tiwari said taking advantage of the demand, many new operators have jumped into supplying PPEs, masks and other consumables, without adhering to any acceptable quality standards.
Taking advantage of demand, some suppliers in China are resorting to price gouging and stretching the delivery timelines beyond acceptable limits.
"For instance, a low-end ventilator with no turbine and just uses the oxygen within the hospital and price should not be more than $4500-$5,000. Right now, if you go to China they are charging about $8000 - $8500 minimum. In some cases, the delivery timelines are stretched beyond even acceptable limits like if you want to order today, they will tell you that we can only deliver only in July or August," Tiwari said.
Medikabazaar says it has launched a COVID Combat Collaborative Platform that connects COVID buyers, COVID sellers and COVID experts to facilitate timely and sufficient supply of medical essentials, vital for life-saving or preventive healthcare purposes against the pandemic.
"The step is aimed at eliminating misinformation regarding the demand-supply of essential medical goods, at all ends," the company said.
The Mumbai-based company was founded by Vivek Tiwari and Ketan Malkan in 2015.
Medikabazaar has 18 state-of-the-art fulfillment centres spread across the country, with a catalogue of 300,000 plus products from which hospitals and medical establishments can discover, research and compare products in real-time, eliminating the need for them to go through multiple channels to get quotes on machines and medical supplies.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here