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India’s Health Care System In ‘Total Collapse’ As COVID Surge ‘Ravages’ Country

India’s Health Care System In ‘Total Collapse’ As COVID Surge ‘Ravages’ Country

India’s health care system is reportedly in “total collapse” and doctors are begging for basic medical supplies, like tanks of oxygen, as the country struggles to get a massive surge in COVID-19 cases under control.

On Thursday, India recorded a world record number of new COVID-19 cases, clocking 314,835 infections and, India Today reported, experts expect to reach a “peak” of 5,000 deaths per day — but that peak could still be weeks away.“India’s daily tally of coronavirus-induced deaths could peak by mid-May at 5,600, an American study has warned,” according to the outlet. “The study, titled ‘COVID-19 projections’ was conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. Published on April 15 of this year, the study pinned hope on India’s nationwide vaccination drive to tide over the second wave of the pandemic.”

The study predicted an additional 329,000 deaths, bringing the full death toll in India to nearly half a million. India’s current death toll is just over 150,000.

“Between the first and second week of April, the daily tally of new confirmed cases increased by 71 percent and daily deaths by 55 percent,” India Today noted. “[T]he number of new cases reported every 24 hours rose to 133,400 on an average in the first week of April compared to merely 78,000 in the last week of March.”

Although the reason for the spike is still unclear, there are indications that Indians were not following the government-mandated coronavirus protocols.

France 24 reported Sunday that India’s health care system is “crumbling” under the record surge and that hospitals are running low on things necessary to treat the respiratory virus, including oxygen and hospital beds.

“Right now there are no beds, no oxygen. Everything else is secondary,” a virologist and director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University told the outlet. “The infrastructure is crumbling.”

“We do not have that many oxygen points,” a doctor, based out of New Dehli, told the BCC. “Whatever oxygen points are there, they’re full. Patients are coming in with their own oxygen cylinders or without oxygen. We want to help them but there are not enough beds and not enough oxygen points even to supply them oxygen if it is there.”

“All our telephone lines are jammed. People are continuously calling the helpline. There is a big rush outside the hospital: there are ambulances parked, patients wanting to get deboarded, but the problem is, there is no space,” he added. “We try to mobilise, we try to discharge patients who become stable as early as possible so that we can increase the turnaround, but things are difficult right now.”

The Indian Air Force has been called in, the BBC noted, to help shuttle oxygen tanks from one part of the country to another as the need arises. India’s government is looking for other countries to provide 5,000 additional critical care beds.The country’s funeral services are also overwhelmed, France 24 added. “Some doctors advised patients to stay at home, while a crematorium in the eastern city of Muzaffarpur said it was being overwhelmed with bodies, and grieving families had to wait their turn. A crematorium east of Delhi built funeral pyres in its parking lot.”

The Biden administration’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said on Twitter Sunday that the White House is working to deploy supplies and support to India.

“The U.S. is deeply concerned by the severe COVID outbreak in India. We are working around the clock to deploy more supplies and support to our friends and partners in India as they bravely battle this pandemic. More very soon,” Sullivan tweeted.

It is not clear whether the Biden administration has yet decided to send COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine supplies to the ailing country, according to the New York Times, even though it is under increased pressure from the international community to ship doses of the lifesaving shot.

“We’re looking at what is going to be done with some of the vaccines that we are not using,” President Joe Biden said on Wednesday when asked about the possibility of sending doses of the briefly-paused Johnson & Johnson vaccine to India. “We’ve got to make sure they are safe to be sent.”

Indian politicians responded by suggesting that the United States’ reluctance to contribute vaccines to the global fight against COVID-19 was a form of “elitism” that spelled doom for its leadership on the world stage.

“By stockpiling vaccines & blocking the export of crucial raw materials needed for vaccine production, the United States is undermining the strategic Indo-US partnership,” one Indian politician told the New York Times.

Others said the United States’ lack of assistance undermined trust in how the Biden administration might tackle other global issues, like climate change.

“This is pathetic. Is this what the US’ ‘leadership’ in the climate crisis will look like?” India’s “climate czar” said last week.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price stressed, in response, that the United States has contributed $2 million to the World Health Organization’s global efforts at vaccine distribution, called COVAX.

“As we are more comfortable in our position here at home, as we are confident that we are able to address any contingencies as they may arise,” he added, “I expect we’ll be able to do more.”

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