Updated: May 2
What's happening in India and how to help during its catastrophic COVID-19 surge.
My late night obsession with watching Indian dance videos on Instagram has come to an end. The next story that automatically shows up on my phone is a story showing urgent need of an oxygen cylinder for his critical mother. He was my classmate in school. The story that follows is of a university friend from Germany who is requesting plasma donation from recovered COVID patients for a friend of friend in India. But none of this affected me until I got a phone call from my home. And now, every Instagram story hurts.
"We can't find a hospital bed with oxygen supply." my mom said and muted the phone for a while (I know it was to hide her crying voice). "Your father is having trouble breathing. Please ask your contacts for any hospital leads in or outside Delhi."
We failed to find a hospital bed in New Delhi, the Indian capital, for an entire day as my father gasped for oxygen. After several failed attempts to find a hospital bed, my father found an availability two hours away from Delhi at 2 AM. "We've found a bed," my mom confirmed.
Living somewhere on the border of France and Switzerland, my world view became that the pandemic situation was looking (slightly) better. But I didn't realize the gravity of the second wave of the pandemic that had just touched India. Just when Europe is preparing for a friendly summer, opening outdoor seating areas in bars and restaurants in countries like Switzerland, my other home is suffering a humanitarian crisis — from the same coronavirus, and some variants.
Many countries have come together to support India in tackling the situation by providing relief support including ventilators and oxygen tanks.
But a lot more needs to be done.
Only five major COVID-19 vaccine producers account for over 90 percent of all vaccines produced globally.
The Indian government has purchased at least 205.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to data from the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, placing India in the top 10 vaccine buyers in the world. But those shots only cover 8% of its 1.4 billion population. People are asked to return home after long hours of waiting in queues at the vaccine centres due to shortage of vaccinations across India.
The enormity of the COVID-19 crisis in India may be impossible to fully comprehend from afar but images of mass cremations and grief-stricken families, and stories of people fruitlessly searching for oxygen, hospital beds, and medications to save infected loved ones are heart-wrenching. Donors around the world are giving money for meals, medical expenses, P.P.E. and oxygen tanks, among other essential supplies.
This fundraising will help contribute: 1. Set up more oxygen generation plants in hospitals
2. Providing oxygen concentrators
3. Oxygen cylinders and refilling them
4. Providing life-saving equipment
5. Setting up Covid Care Centres
6. Vaccination and Testing
Although every small or big monetary contribution matters, don't forget the importance of non-monetary help in these times such as checking up on your friends and helping prepare and send meals for COVID stricken patients and families especially those who are living in isolation.
Put some effort by doing a phone call over text to check up on someone. Ordering someone pizza counts as helping prepare a meal, as long as it's followed by mint chocolate chip. :)