COVID-19 crisis in India: the race to save lives

Apr 29, 2021
As Canadians, we’ve seen the horrifying headlines coming from India, with daily infections and deaths reaching record new highs amid a second surge of COVID-19. These dire reports of people dying as they wait outside of hospitals—and stark images of crematorium fires burning day and night—are clear indicators that India and other developing countries are now getting hit the hardest by COVID-19. The worst of the global pandemic may not be over. 


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Watch World Vision India’s Mridula Naraya share what's happening on the ground:

“People are dying on the street because of a lack of oxygen and a lack of hospital beds,” says World Vision India’s Mridula Narayan, standing outside one of many overwhelmed health facilities in Delhi. Mridula and her family were not immune to the new, more contagious mutant strain which is also infecting more children. She and her young family all contracted the virus at the beginning of the second wave. Her husband was hospitalized for 10 days, but all have since recovered. 

World Vision India is redoubling efforts to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by supporting hospitals, health centres, and communities with personal protective equipment, surgical masks, sanitiser, oxygen concentrators and temporary structures for patient overflow. Staff will also continue supporting vulnerable families with life-giving essentials. 

"India is going through one of the toughest phases in the crisis and the emergence of new strains has made the control efforts harder,” says World Vision India’s national director, Madhav Bellamkonda. “There is a risk of losing some important gains India has made in the fight against COVID-19.”

An Indian teenage boy sitting on the ground and wearing a mask write on a notebook.14-year-old sponsored-child Sufian has lost his father because of the coronavirus. “My father was very protective. I miss his love... I miss that the most,” he says. Staff at World Vision India are taking measures to help him and his family navigate the challenges ahead. Photo: Neola D’Souza

World Vision has already reached 4.8 million people in India with assistance targeted to help the poorest cope with the devastating economic impacts of earlier lockdowns and COVID-19 prevention efforts. This includes working with male and female faith leaders to combat scepticism about vaccines and pressing for fair and equitable vaccine distribution. Hesitancy, misinformation, and expected vaccine shortages are also impacting vaccine roll-out efforts and could potentially hamper attempts to end the pandemic.

Lindsay Gladding, Director of Fragile & Humanitarian Affairs at World Vision Canada warns that the pandemic is intensifying globally, particularly in the developing world. 

“While countries like Canada are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, it is clear many parts of the world have yet to face their worst moments. As we begin our recovery it is essential that we support girls, boys and their families in the hardest to reach areas to get through this pandemic” Gladding says. 

Canada and other countries have offered assistance, pledging oxygen concentrators, ventilators and other essential equipment to help India overcome this calamity. But unlike the first wave, where the spread of infection was largely confined to urban areas, the second wave has spread to the most vulnerable people in rural areas where health services are even more limited. In many cases, two patients are crowded into the same bed. 

The global cumulative death toll has already surpassed three million and continues to escalate. It took nine months to reach one million deaths, four months to reach two million and just three months to reach three million. World Vision is closely monitoring countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Syria, and Papua New Guinea where new spikes in caseloads have been emerging.

World Vision is part of the Humanitarian Coalition's India Covid Crisis appeal.
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