Rahul Gandhi not a doctor, willing to give him a demo: AgVa rejects allegations of faulty ventilators
Days after former Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that the Centre is procuring "substandard" ventilators from a private firm amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Diwakar Vaish, the owner of AgVa company, said that international vendor manufacturers do not want Indian ventilators to be promoted and hence, they are trying to sabotage indigenous efforts.
"We have not made the ventilator overnight. We have been in the market for three years. We have developed this step by step. This ventilator has all parameters that a normal ventilator has...Our ventilators are five to ten times cheaper than normal ventilators. A normal ventilator costs Rs 10-20 lakh. Our ventilator is just Rs 1.5 lakh. In this, international vendor nexus is very strong. Just like when Indian military equipment was indigenised, there was a lot of negative reviews. The same thing is happening here. What a Rs 10 lakh ventilator does, ours is doing for Rs 1.5 lakh. Will international associations, international vendors accept this? That is why they are trying to sabotage," said Vaish in an interview to ANI.
Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet on July 5, accused the Narendra Modi government of "putting Indian lives at risk" and "ensuring that public money is used to buy sub-standard products". Gandhi posted the link along with a Huffington Post article that alleged AgVa ventilators "fudged" software in their product and hide poor performance.
"Rahul Gandhi is not a doctor. He is an intelligent man. He should have done due diligence before making such allegations. He should have consulted doctors. I am ready to give a detailed demonstration in the hospital on any patient," Vaish said.
Doubts were raised on the functionality of the indigenous ventilators. Vaish explained that the doctors needed to be explained and given a demonstration of the ventilators following which they could be used properly. He also clarified that if third party installations were faulty and were done without keeping AgVa in the loop, it could result in faulty readings, which he suspected was the case in some hospitals.
"LNJP Hospital in Delhi did not reject our ventilator. They said our ventilators do not have BIPAP and CPAP. But later they sent us an e-mail confirming that our ventilators have BIPAP and CPAP... As far as Mumbai is concerned, JJ Hospital and St George Hospital got the installation done through a third-party. They did not install it properly. Hence, their doctors could not use it. If you put diesel instead of petrol, what would happen?" added Vaish.
He explained the working of the ventilator, saying it is unique and functions well if used properly.
"I would like to say that our ventilator is unique. We need to explain that if not used properly, it will not function. Later when our engineer went, they pointed out two mistakes - FiO2 (Concentration of Oxygen a patient inhales) should be central automatic and NIV should have 100 per cent oxygen. We explained to them that these two are not in this model, but can be upgraded. On May 26, our engineers went. What the hospitals did before that we do not know. I went there on June 30 and gave them a demonstration. It was working. We have a video recording, it is working on patients," added Vaish.
The central government ordered 10,000 of the firm's COVID-model ventilators to AgVa Healthcare as part of India's response to the pandemic.
"We got support from the Make in India and Invest India. We admit that we are a small company. We used to make 50-100 ventilators every month. But after coronavirus pandemic, we improved our production and now produce between 5,000 to 10,000 ventilators every month... We got support from Maruti, Invest India, BHEL and BEL to move forward," Vaish said.
The co-founder of the company explained that at a time when there was a shortage of the life-saving equipment around the world, it was an Indian firm which came to the rescue and helped in saving lives.