India: COVID cases increase with oxygen, vaccine shortages continue

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India: COVID cases increase with oxygen, vaccine shortages continue


Hospitals in India continued to send distress messages for emergency oxygen supplies, and a major vaccine maker has warned that a vaccine shortfall could last for several months, as the number of coronavirus cases in the country was approaching 20 million on Monday.
India reported 368,147 new infections in the previous 24 hours, bringing the number of people who have suffered so far to 19.93 million, according to government data, the second highest in the world.

India, in the grip of a devastating second wave, has recorded more than 300,000 cases every day for more than 10 days. The overall death toll reached 218,959, with 3,417 additional deaths reported.

Experts said the numbers could be underestimated, due to low testing rates and the number of people dying at home, especially in rural areas.

The shortage of medical oxygen has also worsened. Twenty-eight patients have died overnight, allegedly for lack of vital gasoline in hospitals in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh states, NDTV reported. Officials have not confirmed the deaths from oxygen shortages, but have ordered an investigation into the matter.

Leaders of 13 opposition parties urged the government to launch a free vaccination campaign and ensure an uninterrupted flow of oxygen to all hospitals.

People carry body of man who died of coronavirus to New Delhi crematorium [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Several hospitals requested court intervention over the weekend to deliver oxygen supplies to New Delhi, where a lockdown was extended for a week in an attempt to contain the wave of infections.

The Delhi High Court has said it will start punishing government officials if oxygen supplies allocated to hospitals are not delivered. “The water went over the head. Enough is enough, ”he says.

The crisis that began two weeks ago has shown no signs of improving, despite assurances from the authorities.

“We normally use around 3 to 3.5 metric tons of oxygen each day… now we have to use around 11 metric tons, and somehow we manage to get around 6 to 7 metric tons per day. Arvind Care of the Medanta Liver Transplant Institute told Al Jazeera.

Due to the lack of oxygen, the Indian Supreme Court has asked the government to consider imposing a nationwide lockdown, but not before “it has made the necessary arrangements for hundreds of millions of daily workers” , reported Elizabeth Puranam of Al Jazeera of New Delhi.

Nanhe Pal, 52, who suffers from respiratory problems, receives free oxygen at a Gurudwara (Sikh temple), amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ghaziabad, India [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Last year’s nationwide lockdown caused immense hardship for many in the world’s second most populous country.

Vaccination delays

In yet another setback in the country’s vaccination campaign, the Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla, told the Financial Times in an interview that the company would be able to increase its capacity to 100 million doses by July, against 60 to 70 million per month currently. .

Many in India had hoped for more doses, and before July.

“The manufacture of vaccines is a specialized process. So it is not possible to increase production overnight, ”Poonawalla wrote on Twitter later Monday.

“We also need to understand that India’s population is huge and that producing enough doses for all adults is no easy task. Even the most advanced countries and companies face relatively smaller populations, ”he said.

India depends on supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, made by SII, the world’s largest jab maker, which distributes it locally under the brand name Covishield.

India on Saturday expanded its failing vaccination campaign to include anyone aged 18 or older. But many states have delayed the program, citing shortages.

The country’s daily COVID-19 fire has fallen sharply from an all-time high at the start of last month, as domestic companies struggle to increase their supplies and imports are limited, even as the country struggles with the worst outbreak of infections in the world.

People wait to receive a dose of the Covishield coronavirus vaccine at a health center in New Delhi [Tauseef Mustafa/AFP]

Daily vaccinations have averaged 2.5 million since peaking at 4.5 million on April 5. A quadrupling of coronavirus cases during the period has collapsed the public health system in many parts of the country.

India, which has the largest vaccine production capacity in the world, has only partially or fully vaccinated 12% of its 1.35 billion people, according to data from the government portal Co-Win.

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has announced a drug donation worth more than $ 70 million and is also in talks with the government to allow its COVID vaccine to be used in India, a spokesperson told the DPA news agency.

International aid has arrived from around 40 countries, including Britain, which is expected to send 1,000 additional ventilators to India. Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi are due to host a video conference on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, several countries have restricted or banned travel from India, including the United States, from Tuesday. After the worst-affected areas, including New Delhi, extended the lockdown, the states of Haryana, Punjab and Odisha announced new restrictions to stem the spread of infections.



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