by Callum Lee
On February 1, 2021, COVID-19 cases in India were at an all-time low. At 8,635 cases, people presumed that the country was out of the red and would not experience a second wave like Brazil and the United Kingdom. However, the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus, the relaxing of restrictions, as well as lack of medical supplies and hospital space in India has led to a massive spike in COVID-19 cases. As of today, the country sits at 329,000 cases, with only 10% of the population having one vaccine dose and 2% being fully vaccinated. The country has been caught off-guard, overwhelming the health system and rendering the rollout of the vaccine to a mere trickle. People have taken to the black market to buy medical supplies such as oxygen tanks for their dying loved ones.
Because ventilators and oxygen are in short supply, patients are ferried from hospital to hospital by desperate relatives in order to find aid. In an interview with Channel 4 News, Dr. Sumit Ray explains that citizens are dying on the way to hospitals because of the lack of beds. He is exasperated by the shortage of supplies and space, helpless to the waves of patients that can only wait to die. At a hospital in Delhi, Manika Goel sits at her husband’s bedside, searching for a ventilator. She tells Channel 4 News that “it isn’t COVID that’s killing people. It is the unavailability of the treatment which is killing people.” The doctors tell her that her husband only has two days to live. Her story, while agonizing and unfortunate, is like so many others in India.
Devastation has overrun the country to the point that even crematoriums have become overpopulated. Car parks have been fitted as emergency funeral pyres in order to accommodate for the number of bodies that need to be cremated. Even in death, the families of the victims are pressed to find arrangements for funerals and ensure that their loved ones are put to rest properly. There is no peace for the people of India.
Other countries such as the UK and the USA are committed to aiding the country by sending health supplies, oxygen, masks, and medicine. U.S. President Joe Biden announced that by July 4, the U.S. will send 10% of its AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries, such as Canada, Mexico, and India. This past year has been an immense struggle for everyone worldwide, and as some countries are coming out from under the hold of COVID-19, some may forget that there are still people out there suffering. In these times, it is imperative to cherish our loved ones and what we have, but it is also our duty to exercise empathy and help others.
If you are interested in donating to help India, here is a link of places you can donate. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/how-to-help-india-during-its-covid-surge-12-places-you-can-donate