With the second wave of the coronavirus raging through the country, several patients and their acquaintances have taken to social media to seek assistance to find access to oxygen supplies, remedesivir and hospital beds.
India set another record on Friday as it reported a massive 2,17,353 new cases of the virus in the previous 24 hours. The tally of cases since the pandemic began in January 2020 has now reached nearly 1.43 crore. The toll went up to 1,74,308, with 1,185 deaths since Thursday morning.
Several social media users noted that their timelines were filled with desperate calls for help.
Some also noted that the situation was worse among less privileged Indians who are unable to seek help on social media.
The pleas by social media users came amid reports from across the country of acute shortages of medicines and oxygen cylinders.
Remdesivir, which has been approved for emergency use in South Korea, Japan and the United States, is being prescribed by some doctors in India to for Covid-19 patients with severe complications. In India, Gujarat based-firm Zydus Cadila had signed an agreement with American biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences to produce and sell remdesivir. Hetero Labs, Cipla, Mylan NV and Jubilant Life Sciences also produce the drug in India.
The surging number of Covid-19 cases has led to a shortage, the Deccan Herald reported.
Last week, the government banned the export of remdesivir. The Centre has promised to ramp up the production and reduce remdesivir prices after states such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat complained about the shortage.
Many have also reported that oxygen is difficult to find. On Thursday, the government announced that it would import 50,000 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to meet the demand. India’s missions abroad have been given the task of identifying sources from where oxygen can be imported.
As is evident from these tweets, patients around India were facing problems.
Several social media users were also requesting plasma donors, though medical opinion about this experimental therapy is mixed.
“Blood donated by people who’ve recovered from Covid-19 has antibodies to the virus that causes it,” notes the Mayo Clinic in the US. “The donated blood is processed to remove blood cells, leaving behind liquid (plasma) and antibodies. These can be given to people with Covid-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus.”
A study by the Indian Council for Medical Research in October concluded that the therapy did not prevent progression to severe disease among Covid-19 patients.
Crematoriums are also struggling to handle the increasing number of corpses. Over the past week, video footage, news reports and interviews with those running crematoriums and burial grounds show that hundreds of people have died due to the coronavirus though the government data does not add up.
In at least two crematoriums in Surat, Gujarat, staff members have told news reporters that cremating bodies all day and night has caused the metal grills of some furnaces to melt. Reports also pointed out how crematoriums are running out of dry wood for pyres and are using diesel and kerosene instead of ghee to light green wood on fire. Mortuary vans have also been forced to ferry multiple bodies at a time to cremation grounds.