COVID-19 battle: Global tender floated to buy protective gear

NEW DELHI: State-owned HLL Lifecare has floated a global tender seeking personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare personnel at the frontline of the battle against Covid-19. India is short of coveralls, masks, gloves and other items.

HLL Lifecare is the nodal agency for acquiring PPE for those tackling the coronavirus outbreak. Healthcare workers weren’t too impressed at the speed with which it has been moving. The last date for receipt of bids is April 15, by which time the current lockdown is scheduled to end.

“Didn’t the government see this coming? We are working under acute shortage of masks and coveralls and the government has woken up now to procure?” said a doctor working in a government hospital in Delhi.

India wants 1million coveralls and goggles, 4 million N-95 masks, 2 million nitrile gloves, 600,000 face shield and 2 million triple-layer surgical masks among other items, according to the March 24 tender document, which ET has seen.

Experts asked why a tender was being floated when protective gear is required on a war footing. Many also don’t expect too many responses given the global nature of the health crisis and said the delay in getting protective equipment puts India’s healthcare workers at great risk.

“Maybe HLL has forgotten that the crisis is global. Unless the tender is cosmetic and it has already finalised deals, it is bound to fail as no one has time or interest to enter into a tender right now,” said Malini Aisola, co-convenor, All India Drugs Action Network (AIDAN), a non-government organisation.

An HLL official said Indian manufacturers don’t have the capacity to supply PPE gear in the required volume, hence the need to float a global tender.

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“We thought we would not require such huge quantities,” he said. “As of now 8-10 Indian manufacturers are on board and the decision to float a global tender was taken as we found that Indian manufacturers cannot fulfil the demand.” HLL expects suppliers in China, South Korea and Singapore to participate.

An official at an Indian PPE manufacturer queried the procurement schedule.

“It is strange that they are floating tenders at the time of a health crisis, waiting for bids, waiting till mid of April,” he said.


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