Why India is breaking global infection records


New Delhi (AP) — The world’s fastest pace of transmission and the largest daily increase in coronavirus cases put India in an even more serious and deadly medical crisis.

India is huge and the second most populous country in the world, with a population of about 1.4 billion. Its scale poses extraordinary challenges in the fight against COVID-19.

Approximately 2.7 million vaccinations are given daily, yet less than 10% of those who receive the first vaccination. Overall, India The second highest number of cases of infection after the United States is 15.9 million, and 184,657 deaths have been confirmed.

Due to the recent surge, India’s fragile health care system Limit point: Understaffed hospitals are full of patients. There is a shortage of medical oxygen. The intensive care unit is full. Almost all ventilators are used and the dead are piled up in crematoriums and graveyards.

How did we get here?

Authorities settled down to believe that the worst was behind them The incident began to recede in September.

Cases declined for 30 consecutive weeks before they began to increase in mid-February, experts say the country was unable to seize the opportunity to strengthen its medical infrastructure and actively vaccinate.

“We were very close to success,” said Brammer Mukelzy, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan who is tracking the Indian pandemic.

Despite warnings and advice that precautions are needed, authorities were not prepared for the magnitude of the surge, said K Srinath Reddy, chairman of the Indian Public Health Foundation.

Critics have pointed out that the government has decided not to suspend Hindu religious festivals and elections, and experts say they may have exacerbated the surge.

“Authorities across India are, without exception, putting off public health priorities,” Lady said.

As a result, India’s 7-day moving average of daily new cases identified increased from 6.75 new cases per 100,000 on April 6 to 18.04 per 100,000 on April 20 in the last two weeks. It rose to a new case of. Including the first detected in India, Experts say.

India’s chief health official, Rajes Bhutian, did not speculate on Wednesday why the authorities were better prepared, saying, “Why did we miss, or did we miss, or did we prepare today?” It was.

Why is India’s healthcare system collapsing?

India spends only a small portion of its gross domestic product on the healthcare system, which is lower than most major economies.

When the virus settled last year, India imposed a strict national blockade for several months to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.This brought Terrible hardship Time to take steps to fill critical gaps, including not only millions, but also hiring additional health care workers on short-term contracts, establishing field hospitals, and setting up beds in banquet halls. I bought.

However, authorities did not have a long-term view of the pandemic, said Dr. Vinitabal, who is studying the immune system at the Institute for Science Education and Research in Pune.

Proposals for permanent improvements, such as adding capacity to existing hospitals or hiring more epidemiologists to help track down the virus, were widely ignored, she said. Authorities are currently struggling to revive many emergency measures that ended when numbers declined.

A year ago, India was able to avoid a shortage of medical oxygen Annoyed Latin America and Africa After converting an industrial oxygen production system into a medical grade network.

However, many facilities have returned to supplying oxygen to the industry, and some Indian states are now facing a shortage that is urging the Ministry of Health to deliver to hospitals.

The government began construction of a new plant to produce medical oxygen in October, but about six months later, the Ministry of Health said it was “closely being considered for early completion” online. It is unknown whether it became.

Oxygen tanks have been shuttled to hotspots across the country to keep up with demand, and some state governments claim that many were intercepted by other states while being used to meet local needs. I will.

What’s coming next?

India faces the major challenge of preventing further disruption of the healthcare system until sufficient numbers of people can be vaccinated to significantly reduce patient flow.

Fortunately, India is a major vaccine producer, but whether manufacturers can produce vaccines fast enough even after stopping mass exports of vaccines in March and diverting them for domestic use. The question remains about.

“Vaccination is one way to slow the spread, but it really depends on the speed and availability of shots,” said Reddy, a public health foundation.

Some states have already said they are short of vaccines, but the federal government has denied it.

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

On Monday, it announced that it would soon expand its vaccination program from 45-year-olds to include all adults, about 900 million-this is far more than the combined population of the European Union and the United States as a whole. There are many.

Meanwhile, Lady said some states had to implement new blockades, but in the long run it is the individual’s responsibility to play their part.

“As a society, it’s important to maintain public health measures such as masking, physical distance, and crowd avoidance,” he said.

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.