Why India is destroying global records of infection

NEW DELHI (AP) – The world’s fastest spread of infections and the largest daily increase in coronavirus cases are pushing India further into a deepening and deadly health care crisis.

India is massive – it is the second most populous country in the world, with almost 1.4 billion people – and its size presents extraordinary challenges in the fight against COVID-19.

About 2.7 million doses of the vaccine are given daily, but this is still less than 10% of people who received the first shot. All in all, India confirmed 15.9 million cases of infection, the second largest after the United States and 184,657 deaths.

The latest growth has brought India’s fragile health systems to a breaking point: Hospitals with insufficient staff are full of patients. Medical oxygen is insufficient. Intensive care units are full. Almost all fans are used, and the dead pile up at crematoria and cemeteries.


Authorities were led to believe that the worst was behind them, when cases began to recede in September.

Cases have been declining for 30 consecutive weeks before they began to rise in mid-February, and experts say the country has failed to seize the opportunity to increase medical infrastructure and vaccinate aggressively.

“We have been so close to success,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan who has been tracking India’s pandemic.

Despite warnings and advice that precautions are needed, authorities are not prepared for the scale of the increase, said K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.

Critics have said the government has decided not to disrupt Hindu religious festivals or elections, and experts say they could have exacerbated growth.

“The Indian authorities, without exception, have put public health priorities behind them,” Reddy said.

As a result, the 7-day continuous average of new confirmed cases in India has increased in the last two weeks from 6.75 new cases per 100,000 people on April 6 to 18.04 new cases per 100,000 people on April 20, possibly determined of new variants of the virus, including one that was first detected in India, say experts.

India’s top health official, Rajesh Bhushan, would not speculate on Wednesday why the authorities could have been better prepared, saying: “Today is not the time to look at why we missed or missed, did we prepare? ”


India spends only a fraction of its gross domestic product on its health system, which is smaller than most major economies.

As the virus spread last year, India imposed a nationwide crackdown for months to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. This brought terrible hardships millions, but has gained time to implement critical gap elimination measures, such as hiring additional health workers on short-term contracts, setting up field hospitals and installing hospital beds in banquet halls. .

But authorities have not taken a long-term perspective on the pandemic, said Dr. Vineeta Bal, who is studying the immune system at the Indian Institute of Science and Science in Pune.

Suggestions for ongoing improvements, such as adding capacity to existing hospitals or hiring more epidemiologists to help track the virus, have been widely ignored, she said. Authorities are now working to resuscitate many emergency measures that were completed as the number dwindled.

A year ago, India managed to avoid the medical oxygen shortage that affected Latin America and Africa after transforming industrial oxygen manufacturing systems into a medical network.

But many facilities have returned to oxygen supply to industries and now several Indian states are facing such deficiencies that the Ministry of Health has asked hospitals to implement the reasoning.

The government in October began building new factories to produce medical oxygen, but now, about six months later, it remains unclear whether any have entered the market, with the health ministry saying they are “closely being examined for early completion”.

Oxygen tanks are being transferred across the country to hot spots to keep up with demand, and several state governments have claimed that many of them have been intercepted by other states along the way to be used to meet local needs.


India faces the massive challenge of trying to prevent its healthcare system from further collapsing until enough people can be vaccinated to significantly reduce patient flow.

The good news is that India is a major producer of vaccines, but even after stopping large exports of vaccines in March to redirect them for domestic use, there are still questions about whether manufacturers can produce fast enough.

“Vaccination is a way to slow the spread – but it really depends on the speed and availability of the photos,” said Reddy of the Public Health Foundation.

Several states have already said they have deficiencies in vaccines – although the federal government denies this.

India said last week that it would allow the use of all COVID-19 fires that have been lit in green by the World Health Organization or by regulators in the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom or Japan.

On Monday, it said it would soon expand its vaccination program for 45-year-olds to include all adults, about 900 million people – far more than the entire population across the European Union and the United States combined.

Meanwhile, Reddy said some states have had to implement new blockades, but in the long run it also depends on individuals to do their part.

“As a society, it is essential to maintain public health measures such as masking, physical distancing and avoiding congestion,” he said.


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