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Delhi oxygen row: Can't say demand was inflated by four times, says AIIMS chief who led audit

The Delhi oxygen audit is an interim report, and a final report is awaited, Dr Randeep Guleria said, adding that the matter is currently in the Supreme Court.

June 26, 2021 / 04:32 PM IST
Several parts of India faced an acute shortage of medical oxygen at the peak of COVID-19 second wave (Representative image: AP)

Several parts of India faced an acute shortage of medical oxygen at the peak of COVID-19 second wave (Representative image: AP)

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) chief Dr Randeep Guleria, who led the team which audited Delhi's medical oxygen requirements, said it cannot be concluded for now whether the Arvind Kejriwal-led government inflated the oxygen demand by up to four times.

Dr Guleria's remarks come a day after sources linked to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released in the media an "interim report" which accused the Delhi government of "exaggerating" the national capital's oxygen demand by four times, thereby affecting the supply to other states.

The AIIMS director, while speaking to NDTV, said the Delhi oxygen audit is an interim report, and a final report is awaited. "The matter is in the Supreme Court. We need to wait and see what the top court says about it. Undercounting of active cases and other factors need to be considered," he said.

On being asked by the channel whether the Delhi government was found to have inflated the oxygen need by four times, Dr Guleria said, "I don't think we could say that".

Also Read | Report claiming Delhi inflated oxygen requirement does not exist: Manish Sisodia

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On June 25, a report in The Times of India said that the audit team found Delhi's alleged exaggerated oxygen demand may have affected the supply in 12 states with high caseload during the peak of the second COVID-19 wave.

"There was a gross discrepancy (about four times). The actual oxygen consumption claimed by the Delhi government (1,140MT) was about four times higher than the calculated consumption as per the formula based on bed capacity (289 MT),” the newspaper quoted audit sub-group as stating in its report.

The BJP was quick to attack the Delhi-ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, accusing it of playing politics amidst the coronavirus health crisis.

"It is unbelievable to see that Arvind Kejriwal and the Delhi government politicised oxygen supply when COVID-19 was at its peak. This is such petty politics. The data presented by Oxygen Audit Committee in the report is shocking," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.

The AAP, while responding to the allegations, accused the BJP of "cooking up" the report at its headquarters. "There is no such report. We have spoken to the members of the oxygen audit committee formed by the Supreme Court. They said they have not signed or approved any such report," Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.

Dr Guleria, who spoke to NDTV over the oxygen audit report controversy, also shared his insight over the possibility of combining two different COVID-19 vaccines to fight the more infectious variants of coronavirus.

"Fighting more infectious variants like Delta Plus and Delta is possible through mixing two different COVID-19 vaccines. However, more data is required before final approval is given to combine two vaccines," he said.



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