A black market for oxygen concentrators is preying on affluent Indians hit by Covid-19

She was 53. The family could not find her a bed in any of the hospitals in Delhi where they lived when her oxygen levels plunged on April 26. The next day, they found her one in a private hospital in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh’s Greater Noida. But the hospital had an oxygen shortage—as most facilities in north India at the time.

A young family friend, all of 24, took it upon himself to help. On April 29, he dialled “easily 200 numbers” looking for an oxygen concentrator for her, a device that can produce oxygen from the atmosphere. “I got two hits,” said the young man, an engineer by training.

One of them proved to be genuine—a volunteer in Haryana’s Yamuna Nagar, who connected him to a family that had an old concentrator and were now willing to sell it. It would cost more than Rs1 lakh ($1,365), he was told. But the sellers said they would not be able to provide a bill for the purchase. The family decided against it.

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