The central government on April 30 amended the Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-20 to allow Indian citizens to receive oxygen cylinders as "gift" from abroad.
The Department of Foreign trade stated in its order that oxygen concentrators are exempted from custom clearance while being received as a gift.
The exemption under this category was earlier granted only for life-saving drugs and medicines.
"The exemption for oxygen concentrators is allowed only for a period till 31 July, 2021 for personal use," the order, which has been approved by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, stated.
Also Read: What are oxygen concentrators and how to choose the right one
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The move comes amid a surge in demand in various parts of India. Since the onset of COVID-19 second wave, a number of severely affected states have called for an increase in the supply of oxygen concentrators and cylinders of liquid medical oxygen.
Some of the countries with whom India shares deep bilateral ties have sent oxygen concentrators and related equipment to support India's COVID-19 fight.
The United States, as part of its first tranche of aide to India, dispatched five tonnes (5,000 kg) of oxygen concentrators as cargo on April 25. The United Kingdom's first set of aide to the country, dispatched on April 28, included 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators.