Second COVID-19 Wave Overwhelms India

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About 1 in 3 cases of COVID-19 recorded every day in the world is currently in India, where the rate of new infections is growing faster than any other country.

Posted on April 23, 2021 at 6:27 am ET

Rajanish Cockatoo / AP

Health care workers carry a patient after a fire at Vijay Vallabh’s COVID-19 hospital in Virar near Mumbai, India on April 23, 2021.

A second wave of COVID-19 infections in India has overwhelmed the country’s medical infrastructure as families desperately search for oxygen and other life-saving supplies on social media.

In the capital, New Delhi, morgues are disposing of mass burials to dispose of the bodies of COVID victims. In some hospitals, patients wait outside in ambulances because there are no ventilators inside.

Volunteers have also stepped up to help with supply issues, including India Cares, a community of more than 3,000 people who use social media to source everything from blood donors to oxygen to medicines.

Mohd Saqib, a 23-year-old student who recently got involved with the organization, told BuzzFeed News that the calls for help are increasing day by day.

“We lose our Indian family every day,” Saqib said. “When a person [makes a] Please and then after a while we know that the same person is no more, this moment is the worst. “

In an emergency meeting chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials agreed to divert oxygen for industrial purposes to meet immediate medical needs and use the country’s transportation networks to provide supplies to states in need of it most to get faster.

Modi also called on states to step up action against the potential hoarding of supplies.

Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News / Via Johns Hopkins University CSSE

Cases of COVID-19 have exploded in India since March 2021. Lines show seven-day moving averages.

India was able to evade the worst COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic. Although the nation ranks fourth in the world in the official death toll after the United States, Brazil, and Mexico, its death rate was low relative to its population of nearly 1.4 billion. And when India stepped in in 2021 it appeared to have the disease under control as cases and deaths had fallen from a peak in September.

But since March, the nation has seen an explosion of infections, believed to be caused by a new variant of the coronavirus called B.1.617. India’s National Institute of Virology reported that this variant has taken a lead role in transmission, occurring in about 61% of the cases tested in a province last week. It is sometimes referred to as the “double mutant” variant because it contains two mutations that are associated with increased infection. Its role in the Indian outbreak remains unclear as limited medical testing for variants is carried out there.

Sajjad Hussain / Getty Images

Relatives and employees carry the body of a COVID-19 victim in the Nigambodh Ghat crematorium in New Delhi on April 22, 2021.

Currently, around one in three COVID-19 cases worldwide is registered every day, and the rate of new infections is growing faster than any other country. Around 2,000 COVID-related deaths are recorded there every day, around one sixth of the global total. However, an analysis by the Financial Times based on cremation records suggests that many people who die of COVID-19 in India are not included in the official statistics.

Giridhar R. Babu, epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), warned of the collapse of the health system and warned that this “will not be the last wave, nor will it be the last pandemic”.

In an interview with local media, Babu said that the current situation in India should be a global problem.

“If disease control is neglected in some parts of the world, any other part runs the risk of the infections being imported,” Babu said. “We need to rigorously and carefully review the COVID situation in the country while expanding vaccine coverage.

“Strong public health leadership and resources should be available to build resident systems, including strengthening epidemiological and genomic surveillance of COVID-19 to detect outbreaks. It is unrealistic to expect tangible gains without focusing heavily on strengthening the health system, especially strengthening staff recruitment and capacity building. “

OXYGEN SOS SHANTI MUKUND HOSPITAL has run out of stock. The oxygen saturation of 12 ventilator patients began to submerge and the panicked staff came in with oxygen bottles to rescue them. 120 Covid patients here, more than 20 in the intensive care unit. Desperate situation. Needs immediate attention.

10:51 am – April 22nd, 2021


Twitter: @ Ankit_Tyagi01

/ AP

People stand in line to refill oxygen tanks in New Delhi on April 23, 2021.

The situation in India has been partially blamed on the government. Critics, including the PHFI president, accused the Modi government of prematurely declaring a victory against the virus when efforts had to be made to strengthen the country’s medical infrastructure.

Instead, Indian electoral authorities announced major elections in five states, the country’s cricket board gave the go-ahead for an international game with a stadium full of spectators, and the Kumbh Mela Hindu festival brought millions to Haridwar for the sacred occasion.

The extent of our tragedy: 6.5 of a total of 20 pages in today’s Rajkot edition of the Sandesh newspaper contain only obituaries. Many of these obituaries state that the deceased will be remembered at the “telephone meeting” taking into account the current situation.

07:21 – 21 Apr 2021


Twitter: @ deepakpatel_91

India’s escalating COVID-19 crisis is also very bad news for global efforts to vaccinate people against the coronavirus. The Serum Institute of India in Pune is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and was commissioned to initially produce 200 million doses of a version of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine for COVAX, a collaboration between the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance aiming to bring affordable vaccines to the world’s developing countries.

However, the introduction of domestic vaccines in India has problems. Only 1.4% of the population is currently fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In late March, India suspended vaccine exports to redirect the AstraZeneca vaccine supply to its own vaccination campaign.

Adnan Abidi / Reuters

People mourn a relative who died of COVID-19 next to his pyre on April 21 in a crematorium in New Delhi.

The Serum Institute of India has also signed a contract to manufacture around one billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by the US company Novavax once approved. Another pressure to use the country’s vaccine manufacturing capacity to stall its own program will affect the world. India has also argued that U.S. export controls on raw materials used to make the vaccines will affect its ability to meet global demand.

The US is also under pressure to donate around 20 million doses of unused AstraZeneca vaccines that have not yet been approved by the FDA. AstraZeneca said 30 million US cans would be ready soon, although the US agreed to send 4 million cans to Canada and Mexico in March. When asked about the donation of these AstraZeneca shares, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday that the US will “consider options” to ship excess vaccines overseas “if our confidence is in us own supply increases “. He pointed to President Joe Biden’s $ 4 billion pledge to COVAX in February as an indication of the country’s support for global vaccination.

In the meantime, the CDC is consulting with Indian health officials and offering technical assistance, said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

“It is a bad situation that we are trying to help in any way we can,” he said. “Obviously they have to get their people vaccinated.”

Nurphoto / Getty Images

A crematorium in New Delhi, April 22, 2021