The country is working to increase its oxygen and vaccine supplies to alleviate severe shortages that have forced Indians to queue for hours, if not days.
CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay met Rohin Sharma, 18, who had already waited five hours in the hot New Delhi sun. Filling his cans with oxygen was a matter of life and death.
“My mom is critical,” he told CBS News.
But it could be worse. CBS News also caught up with Sonu Yadav, who had been waiting in line for two days.
As a last resort, others go to a Sikh temple in the Indian capital where the anxious, much too weak to leave their car, receive a trickle of oxygen.
As relatives lure the sick into the sweltering heat, they give them at least a moment’s respite. For some, it may be their last.
In COVID-stricken India, even healthy people need extraordinary patience. In countless lines across Indian cities, people are fighting for their survival, waiting for their vaccine injection.
At a facility in the capital, CBS News met with desperate people whose patience was running out, along with plans available for the day.
Despite being one of the largest vaccine producers in the world, India has only inoculated around 3% of its population, according to epidemiologist Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan.
“As a proportion of India’s population, it’s tiny,” Laxminarayan told CBS News. “We need to increase the vaccine supply fivefold from what it is now. It’s a tall order… But unless you start working on it now, it won’t happen. “
And it’s not just Indian lives at stake.
“As long as there is a possibility of new variants that may overtake the vaccine,, ” he said.
The government said on Friday it had administered nearly 2 million doses in the past 24 hours. But epidemiologists say it will take much more to reach the country’s huge population of nearly 1.4 billion people.