On Tuesday, medical supplies from the United Kingdom arrived in India, marking the first foreign shipment aimed at containing the devastating Covid-19 outbreak. Many ventilators and oxygen equipment from the English state had arrived in India.
With the deteriorating condition, hospitals in India have been overwhelmed. People have been reduced to queuing in the streets outside. On Tuesday, India reported 320,000 new infections, bringing the total number of deaths to close to 200,000.
According to the health advisor in India, UK’s assistance is a drop in the ocean for a country with a population of 1.3 billion people. Zarir Udwadia, a consultant who works in Mumbai hospital for the Indian government, told BBC that the aid would only have a small effect in India. He said there were patients inward, afterward struggling to breathe on ventilators of different forms and shapes.
Dr. Udwadia said that people’s complacency over getting vaccinated had given way to long queues of people outside medical centers jostling for vaccinations during the first wave.
“Vaccine apprehension has morphed into vaccine desperation,” he said.
While India’s official statistics show 17.6 million cases and 197,500 deaths, some experts say the true numbers are far higher. According to an investigation by NDTV, 1,158 deaths in Delhi alone could have gone unrecorded in the last week.
India Receives Help
On Tuesday, a 200-piece shipment from the United Kingdom was unloaded at Delhi airport, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators that will help hospitals handle oxygen supplies.
Arindam Bagchi, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, described it as “international cooperation at work.” Still, it is just the beginning of what will need to be a flood of supplies for a nation of 1.3 billion people.
President Joe Biden announced on Monday that he would send up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to countries around the world, with India being a likely recipient. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, said it would not be sending vaccine doses to India any time soon.
“We’re working our way through the UK prioritization list for our domestic rollout, and we don’t have any excess doses,” a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said.
Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, also said the organization would send 4,000 oxygen concentrators to India. Meanwhile, France is sending oxygen processing systems and oxygen tanks and respirators, and empty cylinder shipments from Thailand and Singapore have already arrived.
On the other hand, India has stepped up its efforts, with the first “Oxygen Express” train arriving in the capital, to transport 70 tons of gas.
The surge varies by state, with Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala, as well as Delhi being particularly hard hit.
The Status of the Vaccines
It’s become a source of growing concern. From 1 May, all adults in India, another 900 million people will be vaccinated. But there are concerns that supplies from two Indian sources, the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, will be insufficient to meet the current demand for the over 45s.
The government disputes that vaccines are in short supply, and funds have been authorized to increase production at the Serum Institute to 100 million doses per month by the end of May. However, some state health ministers claim they have been warned that they might not be able to get the supplies they need, particularly given the surge in public demand.
Approximately 10% of India’s population has received initial vaccinations. According to Dr. Udwadia, the deployment has been “glacially sluggish,” and the country would not achieve anything approaching herd immunity in 600 days if it continues at this rate. He and Devashish Palkar, another doctor who spoke to the BBC, both said they were seeing a rise in the number of young people being infected.