India’s COVID crisis is rapidly worsening as the positive cases and death count continue to rise. One year since the virus went global, India is, after America, the only other country to hit the 20 million mark for confirmed cases. (25 million at time of editing). India confirmed about 300 000 cases a day (at the time of writing), for 12 days straight. The country is facing a severe shortage in its supply of vaccines, oxygen, testing kits, and COVID treatment drugs.
The densely populated country is in dire need of resources, with overwhelmed hospitals having to turn away patients due to the lack of sufficient beds. People have taken to social media to fundraise and spread verified leads about COVID resources for those in urgent need of them. Images of body bags and funeral pyres en masse clearly indicate the turmoil the country is in.
Despite the alarmingly high numbers, experts believe that India’s COVID-19 numbers are likely a massive undercount, considering factors such as lack of testing and subsequent underreporting. According to the World Health Organization, countries should be doing 10 to 30 tests per confirmed case. India is doing about five tests for every confirmed case, according to Our World in Data, making it much harder to get an accurate number. Matching up to the daily number of deaths, the confirmed cases do not add up.
All over the globe, the main issue with examining official numbers is that these figures are only recorded from patients who tested positive, not representing the actual infections. The mutated and highly virulent strain in India has been found to not show up very often in the RT-PCR test, which may also be a factor in India’s under-reporting. Everywhere in the world, cases are being missed as testing is focused on patients with symptoms, despite the fact that several people infected by the coronavirus experience mild to no symptoms.
With regards to India’s death toll, due to the current shortage of healthcare resources, especially hospital beds, many patients die before ever making it to the hospital. As a result, many people are dying at home, and their COVID-related deaths may not be recorded if the families do not formally report them.
Dr.s Amita Gupta, the chair of the Johns Hopkins India Institute in a Facebook conversation commented, “We care from a humanitarian perspective, a public health perspective, and a health security perspective.” It is evident that what is happening in India, matters to the entire world.
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