Rajat Sharma

Mass vaccination is the only method of preventing the spread of Covid-19 pandemic

akbIndia reported 3,82,315 fresh Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, while 3,780 deaths, the highest on a single day so far, was recorded during the last 24 hours. This takes the cumulative Covid death toll to 2,26,188. Active cases in India have increased to 34,87,229, while there were 3,38,439 discharges during the last 24 hours.

Delhi reported 19,953 new Covid cases and 338 deaths on Tuesday. Maharashtra reported 51,880 fresh cases and 891 deaths during the last 24 hours. Karnataka reported 44,631 new cases and 292 deaths, Uttar Pradesh reported 25,858 new cases and 352 deaths, Rajasthan 16,974 new cases and 154 deaths. Among other states, Bihar reported 14,794 new cases, Chhattisgarh 15,785 new cases, Madhya Pradesh 12,236 new cases, West Bengal 17,639, Gujarat 13,050, Punjab 7,601, and Haryana 15,786 new cases. Uttar Pradesh government today extended ‘Corona curfew’ till May 10 to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, daily vaccinations have recorded a dip as private hospitals are yet to tie up with vaccine manufacturers for supplies. Top private hospitals like Apollo Max and Fortis have now limited stocks of vaccines. On Tuesday, 38,54,442 Covid vaccine doses were administered across India. So far, 16.05 crore Indians have been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, oxygen shortage in Delhi-NCR region and several other states continue. Taking a tough line, Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued show cause notice to the Centre asking why contempt action should not be initiated against it for not complying with its order for supplying the allocated oxygen share to Delhi. It rejected the Additional Solicitor Generals’ arguments that Delhi does not require 700 metric tonnes of oxygen in the light of its existing medical infrastructure. The High Court bench lashed out at the Centre saying, ‘because Delhi government earlier made demand of 300 MT..the Centre is quibbling about these little things to justify and let people die? Are you living in ivory towers? You may want to be the ostrich in the sand but we will not be.” The Centre today filed an appeal before the Supreme Court seeking to quash the High Court notice.

On Tuesday, the Allahabad High Court observed that death of Covid patients due to non-supply of oxygen “amounts to a criminal act, and it is nothing short of a genocide, on part of those who are entrusted to ensure such supplies”. The high court observed there was “rampant hoarding of oxygen cylinders and harassment of citizens desperately in need of oxygen”.

India TV reporter Ruchi Kumar met people standing in queues outside oxygen refilling centres. Most of the people said, they spent the whole night waiting, but by the time, their turn came, the refillers said they had run out of stock. There were allegations of oxygen being diverted by hoarders and blackmarketers.

There was a silver lining amidst dark clouds today when the DRDO started its 500-bed Atal Bihar Vajpayee Covid Care Centre in Lucknow. It has 150 ICU beds with ventilators and 350 oxygen beds. Medical and para medical staff of Armed Forces Medical Services will man this centre. The Indian Navy’s INS Airavat is on its way from Singapore to India carrying 3,650 oxygen cylinders, 8 ISO tanks and medical equipment.

On the other hand, death of Covid-19 patients due to lack of oxygen and hospital beds continue. India TV showed visuals of more than 40 bodies of Covid-19 victims being given mass cremation in Siliguri, West Bengal. These were bodies brought from Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpur districts.

It is true that the nationwide vaccination drive is now going at a very slow price due to depleting stocks. But make no mistake: Covid vaccination of people on a massive scale will be the only protection from, if God forbid, a deadly third wave of the pandemic. All the vaccine manufacturers are presently trying their level best to ramp up production, but if it may take time. India is already on the hunt for more vaccines from abroad. Let us hope the situation will turn for the better, once the vaccines are supplied in bulk to government and private hospitals.

Similarly, the demand for oxygen is rising because of a surge in the number of people suffering from Covid chest infection. The situation is really acute in Delhi-NCR region, where, in some cases, entire families living in residential flats are being tested positive. Most of them require oxygen on emergency basis. ICU beds equipped with ventilators are occupied in almost all the top hospitals. ICU ventilators consume more oxygen compared to patients inhaling oxygen directly from cylinders. Let us hope the oxygen supply situation will ease in Delhi-NCR region at least in the next two to three days.

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