COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
20 Covid Patients Die at New Delhi Hospital After Oxygen Shortage

Relatives on Saturday mourned at a hospital in New Delhi, where doctors said 20 coronavirus patients died overnight when oxygen ran low. It was the third hospital tragedy this week in India, which faces a surge of infections.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000007728404/india-virus-surge-oxygen-shortage.html

As Covid-19 Devastates India, Deaths Go Undercounted
India’s coronavirus second wave is rapidly sliding into a devastating crisis, with hospitals unbearably full, oxygen supplies running low, desperate people dying in line waiting to see doctors — and mounting evidence that the actual death toll is far higher than officially reported.

Each day, the government reports more than 300,000 new infections, a world record, and India is now seeing more new infections than any other country by far, almost half of all new cases in a global surge.

But experts say those numbers, however staggering, represent just a fraction of the real reach of the virus’s spread, which has thrown this country into emergency mode. Millions of people refuse to even step outside — their fear of catching the virus is that extreme. Accounts from around the country tell of the sick being left to gasp for air as they wait at chaotic hospitals that are running out of lifesaving oxygen.


The sudden surge in recent weeks, with an insidious newer variant possibly playing a role, is casting increasing doubt on India’s official Covid-19 death toll of nearly 200,000, with more than 2,000 people dying every day.

Interviews from cremation grounds across the country, where the fires never stop, portray an extensive pattern of deaths far exceeding the official figures. Nervous politicians and hospital administrators may be undercounting or overlooking large numbers of dead, analysts say. And grieving families may be hiding Covid connections as well, out of shame, adding to the confusion in this enormous nation of 1.4 billion.

“It’s a complete massacre of data,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan who has been following India closely. “From all the modeling we’ve done, we believe the true number of deaths is two to five times what is being reported.”

At one of the large cremation grounds in Ahmedabad, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat, bright orange fires light up the night sky, burning 24 hours a day, like an industrial plant that never shuts down. Suresh Bhai, a worker there, said he had never seen such a never-ending assembly line of death.

But he has not been writing down the cause of death as Covid-19 on the thin paper slips that he hands over to the mournful families, even though the number of dead is surging along with the virus.

“Sickness, sickness, sickness,” Mr. Suresh said. “That’s what we write.”

When asked why, he said it was what he had been instructed to do by his bosses, who did not respond to requests for comment.

... According to the World Health Organization, a death should be recorded as Covid-19-related if the disease is assumed to have caused or contributed to it, even if the person had a pre-existing medical condition, such as cancer.

In many places in India, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/24/world/asia/india-coronavirus-deaths.html

Millions Are Skipping Their Second Doses of Covid-19 Vaccines
Millions of Americans are not getting the second doses of their Covid-19 vaccines, and their ranks are growing.

More than five million people, or nearly 8 percent of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have missed their second doses, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more than double the rate among people who got inoculated in the first several weeks of the nationwide vaccine campaign.

Even as the country wrestles with the problem of millions of people who are wary about getting vaccinated at all, local health authorities are confronting an emerging challenge of ensuring that those who do get inoculated are doing so fully.

The reasons vary for why people are missing their second shots. In interviews, some said they feared the side effects, which can include flulike symptoms. Others said they felt that they were sufficiently protected with a single shot.

Those attitudes were expected, but another hurdle has been surprisingly prevalent. A number of vaccine providers have canceled second-dose appointments because they ran out of supply or didn’t have the right brand in stock.


Walgreens, one of the biggest vaccine providers, sent some people who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get their second doses at pharmacies that only had the other vaccine on hand.

Several Walgreens customers said in interviews that they scrambled, in some cases with help from pharmacy staff, to find somewhere to get the correct second dose. Others, presumably, simply gave up.

From the outset, public health experts worried that it would be difficult to get everyone to return for a second shot three or four weeks after the first dose. It is no surprise that, as vaccines are rolled out more broadly, the numbers of those skipping their second dose have gone up.

But the trend is nonetheless troubling some state officials, who are rushing to keep the numbers of only partly vaccinated people from swelling.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/25/business/covid-vaccines-second-doses.html

Baghdad Hospital Fire Kills at Least 82, Many of Them Covid Patients
A fire sparked by an exploding oxygen cylinder killed at least 82 people, many of them Covid-19 patients, at a Baghdad hospital late Saturday, the latest example of the pandemic’s devastating impact on a country riddled with corruption, mismanagement and a legacy of decrepit infrastructure.

The hospital, a facility dedicated to Covid-19 patients in one of Baghdad’s poorer neighborhoods, had no smoke detectors, sprinkler system or fire hoses, said Maj. Gen. Khadhim Bohan, the head of Iraq’s civil defense forces. The fire spread quickly because of flammable material used in false ceilings in the intensive care ward, he said.


“If there had been smoke detectors, the situation would have been totally different,” General Bohan told the state-run Iraqiya TV.

Some of the victims were older patients on ventilators who could not move from their beds when the fire started, officials said.

A witness quoted by the Reuters news agency said that patients and medical workers had jumped out of second-story windows to escape the flames. Some relatives outside the hospital ran back in to try to rescue their loved ones, Reuters reported.

At least 110 people were injured, an interior ministry spokesman said.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/25/world/middleeast/iraq-hospital-fire.html

As Covid Outbreak Rages, India Orders Critical Social Media Posts to Be Taken Down
With a devastating second wave of Covid-19 sweeping across India and lifesaving supplemental oxygen in short supply, India’s government on Sunday said it ordered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take down dozens of social media posts critical of its handling of the pandemic.

The order was aimed at roughly 100 posts that included critiques from opposition politicians and calls for Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, to resign. The government said that the posts could incite panic, used images out of context, and could hinder its response to the pandemic.

The companies complied with the requests for now, in part by making the posts invisible to those using the sites inside India. In the past, the companies have reposted some content after determining that it didn’t break the law.


The takedown orders come as India’s public health crisis spirals into a political one, and set the stage for a widening struggle between American social media platforms and Mr. Modi’s government over who decides what can be said online.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/25/business/india-covid19-twitter-facebook.html

U.S. to Send India Vaccine Materials and Other Aid
The Biden administration, under increasing pressure to address a devastating surge of the coronavirus in India, said on Sunday that it had partially lifted a ban on the export of raw materials for vaccines and would also supply India with therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective gear.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement on Sunday.

The announcement, an abrupt shift for the administration, came after Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, held a call earlier in the day with Ajit Doval, his counterpart in India, and as the Indian government reported more than 349,000 new infections, a world record for a single day. Ms. Horne said the United States had “identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine,” the Indian-produced version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The situation in India is dire. The country is witnessing perhaps the worst crisis any nation has suffered since the pandemic began, with hospitals overflowing and desperate people dying in line waiting to see doctors — and mounting evidence that the actual death toll is far higher than officially reported. Officials say they are running desperately low on supplies, including oxygen and protective gear, as a deadly new variant is thought to be behind a rise in cases.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/25/world/us-vaccines-india-covid.html

64% of Americans say they approve of the way Biden is responding to the pandemic, according to a new poll
  • An ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 64% of people support Biden's pandemic response.
  • In contrast, 59% of respondents in January said they disapproved of Trump's pandemic response.
  • Biden's relief package is popular, and more than half of US adults are at least partially vaccinated.
While Trump spent his last year in office downplaying the severity of the pandemic, Biden during his first 100 days has taken a more science-based approach and has more consistently relied on the advice of his advisers.
Read the full article: https://www.businessinsider.com/64-of-americans-happy-with-bidens-pandemic-response-poll-says-2021-4

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia