India is facing a healthcare crisis of unprecedented scale.
After the first wave peaked, slowly but steadily people started resuming normal life. We were going to restaurants once a week, still travelling with masks but inevitably opening them at some point (while ingesting food or drinks).
To be honest, it felt like the coronavirus had gone away and by January of this year, everything started to almost feel normal.
Here's what happened next:
Perhaps there will be detailed studies done as to why the second wave hit us this hard, but the simplest explanation is one of human behaviour.
What we did not anticipate was the speed at which the second wave would hit. From March 8, daily new cases started climbing steadily and here we are. The healthcare system is crumbling to support these many patients.
Like many explanations shared last year, the reason for this collapse is because any system is designed to handle an average load, and systems have a upper limit beyond which it breaks down. The healthcare system collapses when the number of patients that need to be treated in parallel rises above a certain threshold.
For more detailed statistics on Covid-19 cases, different states that are severely affected and how they are doing in terms of daily new cases, visit Covid19India.org
In these trying times, hospitals and doctors have stepped up. They are risking their lives caring for patients who need the right treatment to have the maximum chances of survival.
The people who are currently infected with Covid-19 and are severe are facing struggles in getting the adequate treatment. In particular, the shortage is in supply of oxygen is crippling healthcare frontline workers in providing the requisite care to severely affected patients.
About 5-10% of affected patients need oxygen, and while that percentage is small, the absolute number is huge owning to the number of cases and Indian's population size.
The people at The Product Folks and Creators of Products are maintaining a crowdsourced directory of Covid resources such as where to get medicines, tiffin services, available hospitals and ambulance services, and more.
Peak Bengaluru's Twitter timeline is crowdsourcing info for hospital beds, ambulances and critical supplies in Bangalore.
It's not only the frontline workers who are in on this. We all are. Individuals and private organizations have stepped up amidst this crisis.
If you are privileged enough to be in the comfort of your home, consider donating (that's how I am trying to contribute).
Mission Oxygen- Helping Hospitals Save Lives - A campaign by a few Indian entrepreneurs who got together and are arranging for oxygen concentrators from China. I found out through Abhishek Agarwal's tweet.
India Covid Resources has socially verified several organisations where you can donate. ACT
GiveIndia has several campaigns to help affected people and their families with healthcare, food, sanitary napkins.
Other than monetary donations, you can also donate your time as a volunteer. Covid Task Force by Sairee Chahal of Sheroes is an initiative where volunteers help with screening Covid-19 infected patients. This helps doctors in prioritizing treatment for high risk patients.
"We have found that there is a reasonable chance that the active cases in India could peak sometime between May 11-15 with 33-35 lakh cases", as per calculations by scientists and professors using mathematical models.
The best chance we have at beating Covid-19 is by getting vaccinated. Vaccination does not prevent you from getting infected. However, early clinical trials suggest that it can reduce symptomatic cases by 70-95%.
In effect, the vaccine reduces chances of having a severe, moderate or mild symptoms as per this data by Natalie Dean, whose only source I found was this article by The Economist.
A lot of people will still be asymptomatic and therefore still be able to spread the virus as carriers. So if you got vaccinated recently, don't stop wearing your masks because you are still at risk, albeit lower, of getting infected or infecting other people.
Currently, <10% of Indians have received a single dose of the vaccine and <2% are fully vaccinated with the second dose.
The biggest barrier to getting majority of our population vaccinated is a shortage of vaccine supply as well as other constraints in raw materials essential for vaccine production.
It's a race against time. The sooner we all get vaccinated, the faster the drop in severe cases and the sooner our country will recover from the Covid-19 crisis and its battle with the second wave. More importantly, it will hopefully help prevent a bigger and more disastrous third wave.