Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices has been granted permission to resume production in the National Capital Region to help the COVID vaccination campaign.
Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices is one of the largest manufacturers of medical syringes globally and one of the few that produces a unique type of syringe explicitly designed for use with the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the factories in New Delhi have increased their capacity to 2.5 billion syringes each year. Two-thirds of the power is destined for the Indian market. Still, worldwide demand has been boosted by stockpiling from the United States and Europe, where investment has been focused on vaccine development rather than syringe production. The COVAX programme will also be offered to the United Nations. Before the pandemic, global syringe output was over 16 billion per year, but only around 5 to 10% of that was used for vaccination and immunization. Vaccination syringes in the range of 8 to 10 billion are now required.
A dose of no more than 0.3 millilitres is required to get the most out of the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine, allowing six or even seven quantities extracted from each vial. The device must also have a low dead space syringe, which means that little is left in the needle after injection, and the syringe must break after usage to prevent infection from spreading. As a result, Japan purchased 15 million syringes at the start of 2021, with deliveries commencing within a month.
Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices is a family-owned and operated company founded in 1957. In 1995, new machines were necessary to enhance output, necessitating private finance. Because no further investment was required, the most recent ramp-up was completed swiftly.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Adjoining Areas had urged Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices Ltd (HMD) to shut down its operations ‘voluntarily’ on Friday to help the national capital combat pollution.
The commission has now granted the firm authorization to resume manufacturing. HMD, the country’s largest producer of syringes and needles, had written to the Prime Minister’s Office, the CAQM, NCR & AA, and other administrative offices, requesting that the order be revoked. The firm stated that it was producing essential medical items – syringes – for the COVID-19 immunization campaign and asked that the commission make an exemption for the company.
According to Financial Express Online, HMD supplies more than 66 per cent of the syringes used across the country, and 40 per cent of those are now being used for the COVID-19 vaccination push.
In a prior directive, the CAQM stated that enterprises located in industrial zones and clusters with infrastructure to deliver PNG were directed to switch to PNG or cleaner fuels on an urgent basis on November 16. As a result of that decision, it was decided last week that units that have not yet transitioned to PNG or other cleaner sources of fuel would have to shut down their operations immediately. The directive issued last week was in response to the poor air quality in the northern states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi.
HMD, for example, indicated in its letter for an exemption that it had been operating with 4.3 megawatt PNG since 2011. “PNG Genset is good for most of our larger plant demands,” HMD Managing Director Rajiv Nath wrote in the letter, “but not for our smaller plants where there are additional space and technology limits.” PNG is environmentally benign, but it also saves money compared to diesel-generated power, which costs Rs 24 per unit.
While no one wants to run on expensive diesel gensets that cost Rs 24 per unit compared to government-supplied power at Rs 9, we hope we will be allowed to do so in scarce circumstances in the future, as is permitted for hospitals to ensure optimal plant operational efficiencies, because the cost of change-overs and machine restarts in a highly automated process leads to not only higher wastages, but also higher risks.
According to CAQM’s updated directive, industries that are not running on PNG but are located in clusters with PNG infrastructure will be authorized to restart operations for eight hours a day, five hours a week starting December 13, i.e. Monday.
The CAQM has also written to the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), stating that HMD plants will be able to resume operations if they comply with the new order’s restrictions. It was also highlighted that the units were ordered closed during an inspection on December 7 this year, which revealed that HMD had operated three diesel generator sets after October 28. The three diesel generator sets were utilized 32 times for testing and 30 times to provide electricity during power outages ranging from 15 to 1 hour 30 minutes.
The CAQM observed that the decision was made because HMD had shuttered its operations to comply with the earlier order. It was producing critical medical equipment for COVID-19 relief, and its diesel gensets were not functioning regularly. It did, however, instruct the HSPCB to guarantee that the facility only began operations after the appropriate commitment was given. Haryana’s pollution control board has also been asked to collect reasonable Environmental Compensation charges from HMD within seven days for violating the norms and orders by utilizing diesel generators.
According to Nath, after receiving the formal letter, the company began operations on Monday.