You may have heard that India is suffering under a massive surge in new covid cases. The world's largest democracy, home to 1.4 billion people, is in the middle of the worst covid outbreak we've seen so far, and needs your help.
Total cases so far have risen to 20 million, and new daily cases are in excess of 350,000. Some medical experts fear the true count could be up to five times higher. Testing is imperfect: the World Health Organization recommends doing around 20 tests per confirmed case. India's only doing five.
Trainee doctors have been pulled from their exams to join the fight against rising covid infections. Hospital beds are full: doctors are making impossible choices about who can receive treatment, and who must be turned away.
How did we get here?
Earlier in the pandemic, India seemed to be doing well. Despite its large population and dense cities, the country was managing. Its average age is relatively young — just twenty-eight years old — but now, thins are spiralling out of control. What's happened?
Since the start of the New Year, many public health measures have relaxed across India. Festivals and sporting events have been popping up with greater frequency, and mask usage has declined. The vaccine rollout program has been sluggish, too: only about 2 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
Of course, vaccines aren't so easy to get, either. India's overwhelmed health system was never as strong as those in richer countries like Canada and the US, and though supplies are being delivered from these countries, there's still much to do.
Some health experts lay blame on new covid variants, as well. In particular, the B.1.617 variant, first detected in India, may have a higher growth rate there than other variants. These mutated strains seem to be more virulent: better able to bind to human cells and cause infections.
Even now, some experts fear the real case counts may be much higher, suggesting the government may be under-reporting numbers in an effort to preserve its image. What is clear is that people are suffering under the strain of the coronavirus.
What can you do to help?
The Canadian Red Cross is collecting disaster relief donations from Canadians in support of the Indian Red Cross. The Red Cross is on the ground, helping affected communities with their covid response. Your monthly donation goes to those who need it most.
Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) is another humanitarian agency providing on-the-ground relief in India. Your donation will help provide PPE, medical supplies, and coronavirus care centres in places where they're needed most.
Doctors Without Borders is working with the Indian government to treat patients directly, as well as provide PPE to those on the ground. You can make a monthly donation to support their efforts.
The stories of anguish and loss coming out of India every day are overwhelming. We stand with the non-profits and charities doing their best to support healthcare workers and families who are suffering during this crisis.
India is the world's second most-populous country, and though it has unique challenges, this tragedy should serve as a warning call to the world not to become complacent. The pandemic is raging still, claiming thousands of lives every day. Stay vigilant, be safe, and donate to relief efforts to help save lives in India.
Donate to the Red Cross now