Don’t hoard oxygen, taking it casually is harmful, warns AIIMS chief

New Delhi: Emphasising on judicious use of oxygen, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said if a person’s oxygen saturation is 93 per cent to 99 per cent, then that person does not need oxygen, and taking it will instead be harmful.

At a talk organised by the Centre’s citizen engagement platform, MyGovIndia, Guleria said one of the treatments for Covid-19 is oxygen, but it has to be used judiciously. He added that when a person has pneumonia or chronic lung disease when saturation falls, then oxygen is a treatment, given sometimes for a short duration, but sometimes people are on long-term oxygen therapy.

“Important issue here is that taking oxygen intermittently, your saturation is alright, but you say let me take it for half an hour after my meals or if I take oxygen for few hours in the day, my saturation goes up. I am feeling better, and I should continue oxygen, is actually a waste of it. There is no data to show this will be of any help to you,” said Guleria.

“Many patients have started keeping oxygen cylinders at home and taking it 30 min for 2 hour or 3 hours, this is more harmful and again denying people who need it.”

Guleria clarified that those individuals who are having an oxygen saturation of 93-94, there is no need to take high flow oxygen to maintain their saturation at 98 or 99, as it is not going to be of any benefit. He stressed as a country, collectively, if we work together and say we use remdesivir judiciously and use oxygen judiciously, there will no shortage of oxygen in Maharashtra, Delhi, Chhattisgarh or in any other state.

He reiterated that remdesivir is no magic-bullet, and more than 85 per cent recover from Covid without taking this drug. “In a small set of people, remdesivir is required. Does not show any decreases in mortality; it only shows reduced hospital stay… and not a magic bullet,” said Guleria.

Elaborating on the utility of getting vaccinated, Guleria said some people raised questions that what is the point in getting vaccinated, if after two weeks persons turn out to be Covid-19 positive. “Vaccine prevents from getting the disease and not infection. It prevents from infection turning into severe illness and going to ICU…,” he clarified.

Guleria added the antibodies produced by vaccine will not allow the infection to become a severe disease, and emphasised that even after getting vaccinated, it is important to wear a mask. He stressed that people should follow Covid appropriate behaviour, as it is important to bring down the number of cases by breaking the chain of transmission.


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