Did No Death Occur Due to Oxygen Shortage During 2nd COVID Wave?

Delhi's Batra Hospital told the Delhi High Court that 11 patients and a doctor had died due to oxygen shortage.

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On Tuesday, 20 July, the government informed Rajya Sabha that "no death due to lack of oxygen was specifically reported by states and union territories during the second COVID-19 wave".

Responding to a question, Minister of State for Health Bharati Praveen Pawar, in a written reply, noted that health is a state subject and stated:

"Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union Health Ministry to all states/UTs. Accordingly, all states/UTs report cases and deaths to Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no death due to lack of oxygen has been specifically reported by states/UTs."

However, the health ministry acknowledged an unprecedented surge in the demand for medical oxygen during the second wave of the COVID pandemic.


But did no death happen due to lack of oxygen?


  • Batra Hospital, Delhi: Delhi's Batra Hospital had told the Delhi High Court on 1 May that 11 patients and a doctor at the hospital died due to oxygen shortage. The Executive Director, Sudhanshu Bankata, of the hospital had told The Hindu that the hospital ran out of oxygen, because of which they lost the patients.

  • Jaipur Golden Hospital, Delhi: This hospital, too, had informed the Delhi High Court on 24 April that 25 people had died due to oxygen shortage.

Meanwhile, Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said that the Delhi government had formed a panel of medical experts to look into the deaths that reportedly occurred due to oxygen shortage, news agency PTI reported on 4 June.

Later, Sisodia said that the Centre had denied the approval to set up the committee. The BJP's Delhi unit replied saying that a similar panel had been constituted as per the directions of the Supreme Court, a Hindustan Times article mentioned.

  • Anand Hospital and KMC Hospital, Uttar Pradesh: At least seven COVID patients reportedly died in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut on 27 April. Three of them died at Anand Hospital while the rest breathed their last at KMC hospital. The hospital authorities had confirmed the deaths but Meerut's Chief Medical Officer Akhilesh Mohan had reportedly said that the hospitals hadn't provided any report on death of people due to oxygen shortage.

  • Neelkanth Hospital, Punjab: On 25 April, Hindustan Times reported that six critical patients died in Amritsar's Neelkanth Multispecialty Hospital after the supply of medical oxygen supply dried up. The hospital authorities held the district administration responsible for the incident and a two-member enquiry panel was constituted on the orders of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

  • New Medical College Hospital, Rajasthan: The hospital superintendent of New Medical College Hospital in Rajasthan's Kota, Nilesh Jain, said that a woman had died due to lack of oxygen cylinders, news agency ANI reported on 21 April.

  • Soni Burn Hospital, Haryana: Five COVID patients died at Soni Burn Hospital in Haryana's Hisar in April with the hospital authorities linking the deaths to oxygen shortage, The Hindu reported. The hospital authorities further stated that they had told the district health officials about the shortage in supply of liquid oxygen, but got "no response". However, Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Soni, while denying the allegations, said that a magisterial probe had been ordered.



An ‌independent‌ ‌group‌ ‌of‌ ‌volunteers,‌ ‌researchers,‌ lawyers, ‌journalists,‌ ‌students,‌ ‌and‌ ‌activists has been maintaining a database on the number of deaths that occurred due to lack of oxygen, shortage of oxygen, or denial of ‌oxygen‌ ‌in‌ ‌hospitals‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌second‌ ‌wave‌.

The database, last updated on 27 May, recorded 619 deaths as a result lack of oxygen.

News reports and data collected by independent researchers show several instances of hospital authorities attributing deaths to shortage in oxygen supply.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Delhi High Court   Rajya Sabha   Amritsar 

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