The death of 20 Covid patients at Jaipur Golden Hospital in New Delhi on Friday (23), due to lack of oxygen, opened a reality: India’s healthcare system is collapsing under the weight of the second wave pandemic Coronavirus.
In hospitals where the oxygen supply is low, patients are panting, short of breath.
The country’s crematoriums are full of pyres and piles of earth are strewn over the cemeteries. Shock and anguish were visible on the face of Vikramjit Singh, 45, who had lost his brother and sister-in-law on Friday, minutes apart, when the oxygen supply to Jaipur Golden Hospital ran out.
“When they got married, they vowed to face all that life had to offer them together. But the oath has been tested in advance, ”Singh said sorry. “The government has rounded up thieves here,” he said, pointing to one of Delhi’s largest private hospitals. “They want to kill anyone who survives the infection. These clientelist entrepreneurs are the ones who run the government.
Hospital medical director DK Baluja said when oxygen supplies began to run out, several calls were made to authorities and providers. After seven hours of waiting, they received a thousand liters of oxygen, “but by then we had already lost 20 patients.”
Hospitals across India are asking patients to go home and get oxygen on their own. Also on Friday evening, 25 Covid-19 patients died at another notorious Delhi hospital, Sir Ganga Ram. But the institution has not officially linked the deaths to a lack of oxygen.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the situation in India is a “devastating reminder” of what the coronavirus is capable of doing. Earlier this year, the Indian government believed it had won the pandemic. By mid-February, new cases fell to 11,000 and the country was exporting vaccines. In March, the Minister of Health said India was at the end of the pandemic.
On Sunday (25), however, India set a new record of new daily Covid cases for the fourth day in a row. The increase stems from a sneaky new variant that has contradicted the government’s claims of success in tackling the pandemic. The 349,691 confirmed cases brought the total in India to more than 16.9 million, ahead of Brazil and behind only the United States – the United States government has lifted the embargo on the export of vaccine raw materials and will send inputs and Indian tests, respirators and equipment. for hospital protection.
The Ministry of Health reported that there had been 2,767 more deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths from Covid in India to 192,311.
In several locations, bodies have been burned at stake on trails in front of crematoria, after family members were unable to find a place to cremate them.
Doctor Pradpi Bijalwan died at his home in Noida on Friday two days after Jaipur Golden sent him home because there was no oxygen in the hospital. With great difficulty, his friend Pradeep Tandon got him an oxygen cylinder from the northern state of Harayana.
But Bijalwan did not resist. Fearing the body would decompose if he stayed at home for a long time, Tandon immediately contacted several private agencies operating Delhi crematoriums, but was unable to clear the cremated remains of his friend.
After hearing several denials, Tandon finally found a place in a crematorium in the city of Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday (24). “Staying with a corpse in a two-bedroom apartment is strongly discouraged. We tried to cremate his body as soon as possible, but there was no vacancy, ”Tandon said. Until he fell ill, Bijalwan ran a clinic for the homeless with Covid.
Vikas Kumar is a concierge at New Delhi’s largest crematorium, the Nigambodh Ghat. He reported that 349 bodies were cremated on Saturday, while the facility’s total capacity was 160 platforms.
With the platforms occupied, the bodies were cremated in empty spaces. The number of corpses in crematoriums across the country far exceeds official figures. Covid deaths are mostly underreported in states led by the ruling BJP party, such as Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
India reports a lethality of 1.17%. Experts say Covid deaths in the country could reach between 1 and 2 million. In Gujarat’s Bharuch district, for example, authorities reported fewer than 20 deaths on April 20, but the actual death toll may have reached around 500.
With the second ascending wave of the virus, official data indicates a sharp drop in doses of vaccines applied over the past ten days. From an average of more than 3.6 million daily injections in the first ten days of April, in the following ten, that number has fallen to 2.8 million.
India aims to vaccinate all adults in the country (940 million people) with two doses by the end of the year. For this, experts estimate that the average daily dose applied must be at least 6.8 million, 2.5 times above the current rate.
Almost 130 million doses have been applied to date. More than 111 million people have yet to receive the second dose. India may still need more than 1.2 billion doses. Considering the current national production capacity and the delay in the delivery of vaccines from abroad, the supply is almost certainly insufficient to meet the demand.
As of May 1, the vaccine must be offered to anyone over the age of 18. This means that exports will continue to be banned for longer, with a strong impact on the shipment of vaccines to Brazil, Canada and European countries. “Although there is no official ban on the export of vaccines, the most recent vaccination policy announced by the government seems to indicate an indefinite pause in exports,” said Malini Aisola, co-director of All India Drug Action Network (Aidan), a civil society organization that works to defend patients’ rights.
“The policy is that 50% of vaccines made in India will go directly to the central government for distribution and 50% will go to states and the private sector,” he said. With the reduction in stocks, in the first week of April, the country authorized, as a matter of urgency, the importation of Russian Sputnik V, which will be used to vaccinate up to 125 million people.