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  • It was the middle of the night on May 12th, when this hospital in Goa hit a breaking point.

  • I got a SOS message from one of the doctors at GMC, the Goa Medical College.

  • She reported that she had no oxygen coming in the central pipeline of her ward.

  • At about 2:00 we got through to some officials and they told us nothing like this was happening at all.

  • The doctor took a video of the entire ward with all the ventilators and ICU machines beeping.

  • An hour later, the police arrived and confirmed that the oxygen in the pipeline was fluctuating.

  • That night at least 20 people died due to lack of oxygen.

  • The next day the issue blew up on social media

  • And that's when we came to know that the doctors, that this was not that night,

  • that it has been happening since two months.

  • It began in April 2021, when India experienced a sharp increase in coronavirus cases.

  • With hundreds of thousands of new daily infections, the country's been registering some of the highest number of cases in the world.

  • And when these cases went up so did the demand for life-saving oxygen.

  • But India hasn't been able to match that demand.

  • And that's added avoidable deaths to a second wave of Covid-19 that has devastated the country.

  • In May, more than 70 covid patients died as a result of the oxygen crisis at the hospital in Goa.

  • The same thing has been happening across India.

  • Hospitals have seen covid patients die because they ran out of oxygen. And they started turning people away.

  • Many were forced to wait in line for hours to fill oxygen cylinders for sick family members.

  • This shortage seems to have caught India off-guard and has made the news in this pandemic.

  • But the thing is -- India has run out of oxygen before. So why does this keep happening?

  • First, let's look at how the oxygen industry works in India.

  • About 85% of the oxygen produced ends up in commercial industries, like steel or pharmaceuticals.

  • And about 15% is sent to hospitals for medical purposes.

  • This map shows where India's medical oxygen manufacturing plants are concentrated around the country.

  • India moves that oxygen from one point to another through a large and complex supply chain that spans several states and thousands of hospitals.

  • Here's what that typically looks like.

  • It starts in the manufacturing plants, where oxygen is extracted from the air and turned into liquid.

  • That oxygen is sent to big jumbo tankers for storage.

  • From there, it's sent to distributors, where liquid oxygen is compressed into a gas ready to be used.

  • It's then funneled into tankers or smaller cylinders and sent to local suppliers,

  • who send oxygen to hospitals, local vendors or directly to patients.

  • Some big hospitals skip local suppliers. They store liquid oxygen in tanks on site.

  • The steps in this supply chain seem simple enough. The problem is the distance between one point and another.

  • And that makes transportation one of the weakest links in the supply chain nationwide.

  • Most of the manufacturers and suppliers concentrated in these states don't deliver oxygen outside of a 50 kilometer radius.

  • The ones who do charge extra.

  • Even then, long distances can compromise the oxygen, making hospitals around the country vulnerable to oxygen crises.

  • Especially in states over here, far from the manufacturers.

  • I mean none of us could have predicted the acute oxygen shortage that we faced this year.

  • But right at the start of the pandemic, you know, it was evident at how district hospitals

  • in far flung areas, you know, already well there would not be equipped.

  • In 2017, this state-run hospital in Uttar Pradesh was treating dozens of critically-ill children during a viral outbreak.

  • That August, this tank holding the hospital's liquid oxygen ran out.

  • The hospital's oxygen came all the way from Rajasthan, about 800 kilometers away.

  • So it took three days to restore the supply. But by then at least 60 children had died.

  • An investigation by The Wire revealed that the oxygen ran out because the supply had been cut off.

  • The state government had ignored payments for months.

  • The meters showed theoxygen supply was stopped due to low pressure.”

  • But the state government called itan act of Godand didn't take responsibility.

  • The story caught India's attention.

  • Prime Minister Modi shared his condolences.

  • But the government did little to fix the gaps in the oxygen supply chain.

  • Three years later, covid reached India

  • and the daily consumption of medical oxygen gradually tripled.

  • For months the government received warnings of an impending oxygen shortage and recommendations

  • thatplans be made to produce adequate oxygen.”

  • Finally, the government took bids to build 162 new oxygen plants at all these major hospitals.

  • These plants would produce oxygen onsite for sick patients and keep the fragmented supply chain from getting further strained.

  • But around the same time, as the result of a series of lockdowns, infection rates started to drop.

  • By February, Prime Minister Modi started encouraging everyone to return to normal life at their own risk.

  • And in April, when cases started to quickly climb up again,

  • he was out campaigning heavily ahead of state elections, bringing tens of thousands of people together at political rallies.

  • Meanwhile, this deadly wave was sweeping across the country, killing thousands a day.

  • We saw the most devastating and the most gruesome images, rows and rows of bodies at the cremation ground.

  • That was how stark the disconnect was when people are dying

  • this is what is the priority of people from the ruling party.

  • The government's misplaced priorities and lack of vigilance emboldened thousands to attend mass events.

  • Even though the second covid wave raged on and reached some of the highest case numbers in the world.

  • As covid cases surged, the need for oxygen went up again.

  • Major hospitals around the country began seeing thousands of covid patients show up at their doors for treatment.

  • There were hospitals that would tweet to say that we're running out of oxygen.

  • We don't have enough oxygen to sustain our patients for the next two hours.

  • I request you. Please send oxygen to us. We need oxygen for our patients.

  • Investigations revealed that the government had failed to keep its promises.

  • Out of the 162 oxygen plants promised by the government, only 33 were functional.

  • That really begs the question of what was the government doing during 2020?

  • They had celebrated a premature victory against the pandemic.

  • As India recorded the highest cases in one day anywhere in the world, these oxygen gaps became even more dangerous.

  • India's daily deaths, although significantly underreported, were in the thousands across the country.

  • But now there were hundreds of additional deaths due to lack of oxygen.

  • Like in Delhi, where in one weekend at least 50 people died due to lack of oxygen.

  • Or in Maharashtra.

  • Or in Goa's Medical College, where the central government promised to build an oxygen plant that didn't come.

  • GMC did not have an oxygen tank of its own.

  • So they were basically manually putting cylinders and connecting it to make sure that the oxygen was reaching in the central pipeline.

  • The high court had to instruct the central government to intervene and put up a plant.

  • And now it's been operational within like seven, eight days, but it took them so many lives which have died because of lack of oxygen.

  • To meet the rising demand for medical oxygen, nearly all industries redirected their supply to hospitals.

  • The government enlisted the Indian Air Force and Indian Railways to deliver it.

  • And countries around the world sent equipment and tanks filled with oxygen to help.

  • But these are just temporary fixes for a supply chain that still struggles to transport oxygen that needs to reach everyone across the country in a crisis.

  • The government has promised over 1,000 more oxygen plants to fill the gaps.

  • But has yet to complete the original 162 it promised.

  • It's not people have lost their lives because of coronavirus. They have lost their lives because of politics.

  • They've lost a life because of misplaced priorities of the government.

  • But what's happening here isn't a uniquely Indian problem.

  • As covid waves continue, oxygen shortages have become a problem in countries like Nepal, Sudan and Argentina.

  • In fact, dozens of other countries need more oxygen.

  • Especially in the global south, where low vaccination rates are leaving millions vulnerable to infection.

  • Not all countries will face a humanitarian crisis like India's.

  • But India didn't think it would either and failed to prepare when cases were low.

  • Dr. Fauci, what can we learn from India's outbreak?

  • Don't ever underestimate the situation.

  • The situation in India is a devastating reminder of what this virus can do.

  • It's very important to realize that the situation in India can happen anywhere.

It was the middle of the night on May 12th, when this hospital in Goa hit a breaking point.

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How India ran out of oxygen

  • 20 1
    joey joey に公開 2021 年 06 月 15 日
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