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Explainer | Oxycare system SpO2 by DRDO may bring some relief from COVID-19 crisis : Here's how it works

Bengaluru based laboratory of the DRDO's DEBEL had developed the SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) supplemental oxygen delivery system for soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas. Now they will also be used for common citizens of India.

May 12, 2021 / 05:08 PM IST
Oxycare System SpO2. (PC-PIB)

Oxycare System SpO2. (PC-PIB)

With the Prime Minister CARES Fund approving the procurement of 1,50,000 units of oxycare system developed by DRDO at a cost of Rs 322.5 crore, healthcare professionals are expecting some relief from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Bengaluru-based laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)'s Defence Bio Engineering & Electro Medical Laboratory (DEBEL) had developed the SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) supplemental Oxygen Delivery System for soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas. Now they will also be used for common citizens of India.

In Pics | What are oxygen concentrators and how to choose the right one

What is SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) supplemental oxygen delivery system?

DEBEL’s ‘supplemental oxygen delivery system’ delivers oxygen based on the SpO2 levels and its prevents the person from sinking into a state of hypoxia (deficiency of oxygen).


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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What is Hypoxia?

Hypoxia is a state in which the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues is inadequate to fulfill all the energy requirements of the body. This is exactly the situation that gets replicated in a COVID-19 patient due to the virus infection and has been a leading factor in the current crisis.

How SpO2 supplemental Oxygen Delivery System's hardware and software works?

The electronic hardware of the system is designed for functioning at extreme altitudes featuring low barometric pressures, low temperatures and humidity. The software safety checks incorporated into the system are critical in ensuring the functional reliability of the system in field conditions.

How the new machine works? Is it a concentrator?

Through the new machine, SpO2 levels of the patient from a wrist-worn pulse oximeter module through wireless interface. It then controls a proportional solenoid valve to regulate the oxygen supply. Following this, the oxygen is delivered from a lightweight portable oxygen cylinder through nasal nares.

Size availability:

The new machine is is available in various sizes from one litre and one kg weight with 150 litres of oxygen supply to 10 litres & 10 kg weight with 1,500 litres of oxygen supply which can sustain for 750 minutes with a continuous flow of two liters per min (lpm).

COVID-19 treatment: PM CARES Fund approves Rs 322.5 crores to procure DRDO’s Oxygen System

Indigenously developed?

SpO2 (Blood Oxygen Saturation) supplemental Oxygen Delivery System is an indigenously developed system for operation in field conditions. This system is unique with its dual qualities of being robust and cheap and is already in bulk production with the industry.

This can even be used in the household for moderate Covid patients for Oxygen flow therapy with flow controlled at 2/5/7/10 lpm flow. It will automatically increase/decrease the O2 flow based on SpO2 setting which can be auto adjusted at 2, 5, 7, 10 lpm flow rate. The optimal O2 flow rate conserves the O2 resources/O2 management and greatly increases the endurance.


Its availability and ease to use facility by a common person can greatly reduce the workload and exposure time of doctors and paramedics to monitor the SpO2 levels.

The automated calibrated variable flow control for low O2 levels -- user pre-set, <90%, <80% -- through a calibrated flow control valve (PFCV) will facilitate in economising the oxygen supply (1-10 lpm with ±0.5 lpm). A moderate COVID-19 patient requires longtime moderate O2 supply 10litre/150bar–10kg–1500 litres which can sustain up to 750 minutes.
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