Asia press review: in India, the Covid-19 causes chaos

pan> In India, the 2e epidemic wave is a tsunami

A little less than 400,000 cases of Covid reported during the single day of Sunday, May 2, 3,689 dead: these are the figures of the Indian Ministry of Health, relayed by the daily Hindustan Times. The Covid Tracking India account estimates that Indian cases represent 54% of cases in the world, in other words, one in two Covid patients in the world is Indian … But these figures are greatly underestimated. It is the conviction of everyday life The New Indian Express, expressed last week. For epidemiologist Jammi N Rao interviewed the Indian daily, these figures do not match the queues in front of crematoriums in several cities in the country. It is reported that some of them have been forced to stop their activity because of the overheating of the ovens. The media publish these spectacular images of cremation centers hastily built by the dozens around the hospitals of the capital to accommodate the bodies of the Covid deceased. The urgency is such that one of the municipalities of the territory of Delhi, for lack of wood, gave the authorization to cut down the trees of alignment the most badly in point of the agglomeration to supply the funeral pyres.

Insufficient vaccines for the moment

By mid-January, 9% of the 1.3 billion Indians had been vaccinated, an insufficient percentage in terms of herd immunity. The start of a new vaccine phase has been set for 1er May throughout Indian territory. Several states have already noted the lack of doses and postpone the start of the vaccination campaign, from a few weeks to a few months, according to statements made by several of them. Vaccination appointment platforms and apps for over 18s opened on April 28 and were stormed by the public as shown in the screenshot by the Indian news site The Wire.

Medical oxygen is sorely lacking

More than the shortage of antiviral drugs, respiratory assistance materials, it is the lack of medical oxygen that has been widely covered by the Indian press. The precious gas symbolized by these carboys, objects of intense traffic by desperate families of Covid patients, was lacking in hospitals and individuals, for lack of upstream planning. Social networks have become the tool of assistance and mutual aid between individuals to find the hospital still provided with oxygen reserves. A survey of the news site NewsClick carried out in the southern state of Tamil Nadu shows how foolish local authorities have been since the start of the pandemic. To increase the production of medical oxygen, they are turning to industries for an express conversion of some of their factories. The licenses were only distributed in the last weeks of last April according to NewsClick, which explains that it will take 6 to 9 months for production to start. The site is doing its calculations: the 400 metric tons of medical oxygen that the state can manufacture for the time being will not be enough when the cases of Covid will soon increase. The journalist of NewsClick also indicates that factories closed due to pollution in the near past will reopen thanks to this health emergency, with the risk of seeing them return to their polluting activities, once the pandemic has passed.

Collect data and sequence: the call of 300 scientists

300 scientists across India have signed an appeal with the Indian federal government, in this context of health chaos. They are asking their government for analytical tools that are sorely lacking and, when epidemiological and clinical data exist, they are not freely communicated, they complain. Even officials belonging to agencies or think tank government officials are highlighting the lack of data and detailed information to understand the geographical variations of the epidemic, to better anticipate drug needs, to plan the distribution of medical equipment and supplies. The signatories also evoke the weakness of the sequencing carried out from the tests carried out in the country, barely 1%, as the information site recalls. The News Minute. The rise of this sequencing is important, they explain, to better understand the variants in circulation, including the famous variant B.1.617, known as the Indian variant, whose appearances in several countries are beginning to worry. They recall that the INSACOG sequencing consortium is hampered by the policy in several sectors advocated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, baptized “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”By the latter. It is a question of privileging the purchase of equipment of Indian origin. Several bureaucratic locks were therefore placed on the importation of any material, which had the consequence of delaying the purchase of sequencing tools from abroad. According to them, the INSACOG sequencing effort was hampered by this national preference.

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