A: India’s second wave of COVID-19 has come as a surprise to the world since the country was doing so well managing the pandemic.
However, various conditions have created a perfect storm. Daily deaths are on the rise. There are not enough crematoriums to handle those who have died. A shortage of supplies, health care workers, and hospital beds are leaving many to die at home. India now has the second highest deaths due to the pandemic after the United States.
In February, the people of India breathed a sigh of relief that COVID-19 was seemingly under control. Some epidemiologists reported that things were going well. Vaccinations were on the rise, hospitals were well staffed, and supplies were adequate.
By mid-April, the number of deaths in India due to COVID-19 started to climb. Last weekend, the nation reached a daily death toll of 4,000. Daily new cases rose above 400,000. The positivity rate in the hardest hit region of Maharashtra, which is on the West coast, was 38%. The number has dropped to 24% this week. Although this shows some improvement, it’s still very high.
After an initial lockdown, which helped curb the rate of infection in India’s first wave of COVID-19, people started to socialize freely. There were large political rallies, religious ceremonies, and family gatherings. The number of cases began to rise. The healthcare system was overwhelmed. And a shortage of oxygen made it difficult to care for patients who could make it to the hospital. Now, a shortage of vaccines, hospital beds, and healthcare workers has made the situation worse.
Those who survive COVID-19 are faced with a risk of mucormycosis, a rare but deadly fungal infection that attacks the respiratory system, sinuses, and the brain. Several cases have been reported, but healthcare officials say there is no concern of a major outbreak. Conditions that elevate the blood sugar and that weaken the immune system make one susceptible to mucormycosis. The use of steroids in COVID-19 patients is thought to contribute to the risk of infection.
The world is responding to India’s crisis with aide, supplies, medical staff, oxygen, and vaccines. India is working hard to help themselves as well. Increased oxygen production is promised. Regions are re-instating lockdown orders. Nonprofit, grassroots organizations are feeding people who have lost family to disease and death. The military has deployed healthcare personnel to assist. And a group of young people are converting rickshaws to ambulances to carry the sick safely to hospitals.