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How did India get into the chaos of Covid-19?

Relatives of a COVID-19 victim mourn outside Batra Hospital in Tughlakabad on May 1, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

Relatives of a COVID-1
9 victim mourn outside Batra Hospital in Tughlakabad on May 1, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

On Monday, a senior official from India’s central government told reporters there was no shortage of oxygen in Delhi or anywhere else in the country.

As he said, many smaller hospitals, miles from where he stood in the capital, were sending desperate messages about them that depleted oxygen put the lives of patients at risk.

The chief physician of a hospital, a pediatric clinic, told the BBC that “our hearts are in our mouths” because of the risk of death. They received supplies just in time after local politicians intervened.

Still, the central government has repeatedly insisted there is no shortage. “We are only having problems with transportation,” said Piyush Koyal, a senior official at India’s home ministry.

He also recommends the hospital. “Ensuring proper oxygen utilization,” said many doctors who spoke to the BBC, they were giving oxygen only to the patients they needed. But there weren’t enough

But experts say the oxygen shortage is just one problem showing that both the federal and state governments are unprepared and have failed to halt or minimize the damage to the second wave.

Patients receive oxygen from charities.

Patients receive oxygen from charities.

In fact, several warnings have been issued, including:

However, on March 8, the country’s health minister announced that India was in “The end of the epidemic”

So what’s wrong with that?


In January and February, the daily number of cases in the country fell to below 20,000 from a peak of around 90,000 in September last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that COVID had been beaten and that all public gatherings were opened.

And soon people are not following Covid’s security protocol as part of the confusing messaging from above.

While Modi urged people to wear masks and pursue social aloofness in his public statements, he addressed the undisclosed crowd during the five-state campaign. Many of them held public gatherings without the Kumbh Mela mask, a Hindu festival which attracted millions of people, were allowed to continue.

Woman receives oxygen through a mask.

Woman receives oxygen through a mask.

Said Dr. Chantarakan Lahariya, an expert in public policy and health systems.

Dr. Shahid Jameel, the famous virologist, said: “The government didn’t see a second wave coming and it started celebrating too soon.”

But there is more to it: The Holocaust reveals a lack of funding and the neglect of the public healthcare system in India.

The harrowing scenes seen outside hospitals – people who have died without treatment – show the grim realities of India’s healthcare infrastructure.

As one expert said “India’s public health infrastructure is always crumbling, the rich and the middle class are just discovering.” Those who can afford it often rely on private hospitals for treatment, while the poor struggle to get a doctor’s appointment.

Recent plans, such as health insurance and subsidized drugs for the poor, have not received aid because very little has been done in decades to increase the number of medical staff or hospitals.

Comparison chart of health care spending of different countries.

Comparison chart of health care spending of different countries.

Indian healthcare expenditures, including the private and public sectors, were estimated at 3.6% of GDP over the past six years, the lowest percentage in the five Brics countries: Brazil spent the most at 9.2%, according to With South Africa at 8.1%, Russia at 5.3% and China at 5% in 2018.

Developed countries spend a much higher proportion of GDP on health. For example, in 2018, spending in the United States was 16.9% and Germany 11.2%. Even smaller countries like Sri Lanka (3.76%) and Thailand (3.79%) spent more than India.

And India has fewer than 10 doctors per 10,000, and in some states fewer than five.


Last year there was Many “competent committees” looked at the preparations needed to tackle the next coronavirus, so experts were baffled by the lack of oxygen, bedding and drugs.

“When the first wave is going down, that’s when they should get ready for the second wave and think that’s the worst. [the drug] remdesivir and then increase production capacity, ”Mahesh Zagade, former Maharashtra state health minister, told the BBC.

Officials said India was producing enough oxygen to meet the rising demand. But there is a problem with the transportation. Experts say this should be addressed much earlier.

The government is now operating special trains carrying oxygen from one state to another and halt industrial oxygen use – but after a large number of patients die of lack of oxygen.

Covid-19 patient waiting for a bed outside Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital on May 3, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

Critically ill patients are stranded outside the hospital due to waiting in empty beds.

“The result is that desperate family members spend thousands of rupees to maintain oxygen tanks on the black market, then stand in the queue for hours to fill them up,” Dr Lahariya points out.

At the same time, those who can afford it pay large sums of money to provide medicines such as remdesivir and tocilizumab.

An executive from the pharmaceutical company that makes remdesivir said “dry demand” in January and February “If the government orders we will have to stock up and there will be no shortage. But the demand has grown tremendously, ”he said.

By contrast, the southern state of Kerala had planned an advance surge, Dr A Fathahudeen, part of the state’s Covid, said there was no shortage of oxygen in the state because necessary steps were taken in the month. October last year

A woman sees an oxygen tank outside a gas station at Lajpat Nagar on May 3, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

The patient’s relatives were manually refilled with oxygen cylinders.

“We are also adequately procuring stocks of remdesivir and tocilizumab and other drugs. We also have more plans to cope with the number increases in the coming weeks,” he said.

Zaged said other states should take the same action as well. “To avoid suffering”

Learning means that someone else has done it, and you can do it. But that means it takes time, ”said the former health secretary of Maharashtra.

But time is running out as the second wave is spreading to villages where the healthcare system is not ready to handle the incident.


Viral genome sequencing is an important step in identifying potentially infectious and life-threatening new strains.The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) was established last year and has put together a laboratory. 10 locations in the country

But the group was reportedly struggling to get funding in the first place, said virologist Dr. Jameel, that India began looking vigorously towards the mutation late in the year, with specific sequencing efforts. “Starting right” in mid-February 2021

India is currently ranking only 1% of the total sample population. “In comparison, the UK ranked 5-6% at the peak of the outbreak. But you can’t build that capacity overnight, ”he said.

However, India’s main hope is always to stay vaccinated.

A woman taking a selfie while having the vaccine

This woman wants to record the moment of the vaccination.

“Any public health expert will tell you that there is no practical way to strengthen the broken state health care system in a matter of months,” said a woman whose family runs a large private hospital in India. Lee told the BBC.

“The best and most effective option in the fight against COVID is to vaccinate the population as quickly as possible so that most people will not need hospital care and therefore not compromise the treatment system.” The nurse is too heavy. “

India initially wanted 300 million people to be vaccinated by July. “But it seems that the government is not planning enough to supply the vaccine to run the program,” said Dr. Lahariyya.

“It is also open to vaccination for all adults without the need for a vaccine device.”

So far, only 26 million people have been vaccinated out of the 1.4 billion people and about 124 million have received a single dose. India has more than millions of orders. But still missing what he really wants

The federal government requires 615 million doses of the vaccine for everyone over the age of 45 – about 440 million, 622 million people aged 18 to 44, and 1.2 billion doses of the vaccine required.

The government also canceled the export, accepting international commitments.

The government has enlisted other companies, such as the Biological E and the state-run Haffkine Institute, to make the vaccine. It also provided $ 609 million in credit support to Serum Institute of India, which produces the Oxford-AstraZeneca cylinder, made in India, Cowich Field, to increase production.

But that funding should have come earlier. Lahariya said it saved lives. “It will take months before we have enough vaccines to speed up the program, in the meantime, millions of people will still be at risk of getting COVID,” he added.

Experts say it is ironic that India is touted as the world’s pharmacy and it is now facing a shortage of vaccines and medicines.

All of this, Dr. Lahariya said it should serve as a wake-up call for both the federal and state governments, which should be heavily invested in the healthcare sector because “This is not the last outbreak we will have to fight.”

“Future outbreaks may come faster than any model can predict,” he said.

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