Supply outstrips demand, PPE prices crash | India News

CHENNAI: A spurt in production has resulted in a near 70% crash in prices of personal protection equipment (PPE) kits and RT-PCR or Covid test kits.
PPE kit prices of 100 GSM (gross square metre) have crashed in select markets to Rs 168 apiece from Rs 600 a few weeks ago, and those of RT-PCR testing kits have dropped to Rs 600 from nearly Rs 1,700 earlier.
“We are in a situation where supply is significantly more than the demand. There are multiple standards of PPE depending on their use. Kits are now being supplied to the government at around Rs 300 per piece while it was nearly Rs 850 to Rs 900 a couple of months ago. The price of high-quality products are down to Rs 800 a kit from Rs 1,200,” said Satyaki Banerjee, CEO, Kiran Medical Systems, Trivitron group.
Some large manufacturers, including Arvind group, are hoping that the government will open up exports. “This is a very good addition to the technical textiles segment and high quality PPE kits have a global market,” said Kulin Lalbhai, executive director of Arvind Ltd. “So far the procurement is mainly done by the government and the capacity is more.”
The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation, an agency that purchases PPE kits for the state government, buys them for Rs 365-380. TNMSC managing director P Umanath said, “Many other suppliers came with a lesser quote but their kits did not include gloves and goggles.”
Starting at zero a couple of months ago, India has now become the world’s second-largest supplier of PPE kits. Nearly half-a-million pieces are made a day by more than 600 companies.
But some smaller manufacturers have shut down their units. “It’s not viable at these prices. Prices today are Rs 168 a kit from Rs 600 a few weeks ago for a non-woven wax coated 90 GSM kit,” said R Annandurai of Knitfab in Tirupur.
Ditto is the case with Covid test kits, which were imported for around Rs 1,600-Rs 1,700. These are now available for Rs 600 after local manufacturers started making them.
Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation, one of the largest customers, paid Rs 1,200 for the testing kits. The state government body purchased viral transport medium from another agency for Rs 200. In early May, the state paid Rs 1,550 for all the three components of the kit. In the latest purchase, the cost of the imported kit dropped to Rs 850.
“Most Indian test kits are now priced at Rs 400. The extractor and the viral medium will cost another Rs 200,” said Dr GSK Velu, Trivitron CMD.

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