India is currently facing a terrifying humanitarian crisis as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase exponentially in the Asian country. On April 25, the country has registered over 350,000 new cases. India had broken the sad record for the highest number ever of new COVID cases for five days in a row, surpassing the United States where a peak of about 302,000 daily cases was recorded in early January of this year.
Hospital beds, especially Intensive Care Units, have run out in the major urban centers. Hospitals are also lacking oxygen and treatments for the people in their care and are sending many away back home. There are reports that people are resorting to buying oxygen canisters and treatment on the black market.
“Hoarding of injections like remdesivir and oxygen in homes is creating a panic and this hoarding is causing a shortage of these medicines. COVID19 is mild infection and 85-90% people will only suffer from cold, fever, sore throat and bodyache. Only symptomatic treatment at home is enough to ride through these infections and there is no need for oxygen or remdesivir,” Doctor Randeep Guleria, Director of All India Institute of Medical Science, said in a statement regarding the shortages.
The tragic number of deaths has also been increasing drastically each week since mid-March. Last week, 15,161 people succumbed to the disease more than double the numbers of victims from the previous week. There are reports that the official number of deaths is actually much higher than what the government is reporting. This is based on the much higher number of cremations and burials.
The minimizing and undercounting of deaths has been a common feature in governments around the world willing to appear much more in control than they actually are. Russia underplayed the country true death tolls for months, and in Florida, a scientist who blew the whistle on the real COVID-19 numbers in the State had her home raided by police.
The nationalist Indian Government and its prime minister Narendra Modi have also been criticized for focusing on their public image by asking Twitter to remove certain tweets many of which are reported to have shown the mishandling of the crisis in the country.
There are also been plenty of criticism aimed at western countries who have been hoarding resources to make treatment and vaccines and have been unwilling to share them with other countries. For example, the United States has tens of millions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine not being utilized cause the vaccine has not been approved in the US. The Biden-Harris administration is now considering possibly sending them to India.
“The situation in India is a devastating reminder of what this virus can do and why we must marshal every tool against it in a comprehensive and integrated approach; public health measures, vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press briefing last Friday.
“This is a scenario that's playing out around the world and will continue to play out unless we ensure equitable access to the tools needed to save lives. The solution is straightforward; we need countries and companies that control the resources that could save lives to share.”