Over the coming days, we’re going to be looking at my top 10 stories across the industrial gas year – and what a year it has been. We’re going to see hydrogen, synthetic fuels, ASU growth, medical oxygen milestones, and so much more besides.

But before we get to those top 10 stories, first we take a look at gasworld’s most-read story of 2021 – that’s the story that you all flocked to read more than any other.

That’s been a competitive order throughout the year, one that’s ebbed and flowed like the tide as various big headlines have come and gone across the weeks and months. In fact, such has been the magnitude of some of the stories in the second half of the year, almost half (4/10) of our top 10 list is comprised of stories from September onwards.

Comfortably ahead of anything else, however, and perhaps summing up the year and one of the very biggest stories within it, is our most-read story on medical oxygen. You can read it here: Hot topic – Understanding medical oxygen

Should we be surprised? Perhaps not.

Covid-19 has continued to dominate how we live and work across the world, and that remains an ongoing situation as I write this, with restrictions re-introduced in various countries and regions as new variants come to light.

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Thirst for insight

It was in the first half of the year that medical oxygen was in such fervent focus, during the first throes of second and third waves of Covid sweeping the globe.

We watched with despair as Brazil, India and others struggled to cope with renewed waves of the virus and the fragilities of the (medical) oxygen supply chain that were so poignantly exposed.

At a time when the world was quite literally gripped by the spread of coronavirus all over again and healthcare systems in certain countries (often low and middle-income countries or LMICs) were pushed to their limits, the medical oxygen business was once more in focus like never before. Amidst all of our coverage of these developments at gasworld, there was a thirst for knowledge on medical oxygen – what it is, how it’s derived and delivered, and why it’s potentially in shortage. And that was borne out in this hot topic from 2020 being our most read story of 2021.

A big year for medical oxygen

Amidst the maelstrom in medical oxygen in the first six months of 2021, it’s been a big year for medical oxygen as a whole.

In June, we had the news that Air Liquide and Linde had entered into unprecedented agreements to provide increased access to medical oxygen in low and middle-income countries – seen as a major milestone in both in the fight against Covid-19 and in the gases industry as a whole.

The agreements came after months intense engagement with the world’s major oxygen suppliers by the Covid-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce, and were lauded by the international community.

Read more: Beyond Covid – Why unprecedented oxygen agreements are such a breakthrough

Despite this major breakthrough, supply chain challenges remain in a number of LMICs and, speaking in an exclusive interview with gasworld in November, Robert Matiru – Director of the Programme Division at Unitaid – was clear that we cannot afford to lose momentum in medical oxygen.

For many low and middle-income countries (LMICs) the difficulties in accessing oxygen are systemic and long-term, and Matiru explained that in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lack of access to medical oxygen is threatening entire health systems in countries around the world.

Read more: Unitaid exclusive – We cannot afford to lose momentum in medical oxygen

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Source: gasworld / Unitaid

The months of October and November saw gasworld serialise a report into the Covid-19 and medical oxygen shortages, described as ‘a 10-point playbook of political, social, scientific and economic constructs that underpinned one of the most devastating public health emergencies in a century’.

The exclusive series is titled The Covid-19 Oxygen Crisis: How Did We Get Here? and explores how critical oxygen supply chain shortages were seen in various parts of the world over the last 18 months.

With the release of its final chapter and the author’s concluding column about the motivation for the series and its findings, the report is now available for download in its entirety in one document via the gasworld White Papers platform.

New for 2022 – White Papers

An exciting and informative part of gasworld’s New for 2022 offering of platforms and services, White Papers will provide an opportunity for industrial gas professionals, end-users and wider readers to learn more about specific technology topics, methodologies, key sectoral considerations and some of the new solutions available to meet market demands.

gasworld’s White Paper’s platform will also be home to heavyweight investigative reports, studies and other papers, as part of gasworld’s ongoing commitment to keeping you at the forefront of industrial gas news, views and intelligence.

To download The Covid-19 Oxygen Crisis: How Did We Get Here? report from gasworld and learn more about other white papers available, visit www.gasworld.com/white-papers.