Harrowing video has emerged of Indian doctors and nurses desperately trying to save the lives of COVID-19 patients gasping for breath in a crowded hospital that ran out of oxygen cylinders.
The disturbing footage captured by the relative of a patient shows doctors performing CPR and carrying out life-saving measures in the hospital in Patiala, in northern India’s Punjab region, according to Jam Press.
One family member sobs as she records the mayhem surrounding a woman lying motionless.
The heartbreaking scenes were shared as India faces a devastating surge of new infections overwhelming its health-care system and people take desperate measures to try to keep their loved ones alive.
In some cases, they have turned to unproven medical treatments, in others to the black market for medications that are in short supply.
Ashish Poddar kept an ice pack on hand as he waited outside a New Delhi hospital for a black market dealer to deliver two medications for his coronavirus-infected father, who was gasping for breath.
But the drugs never arrived, the ice that was intended to keep the medicines cool melted and his dad, Raj Kumar Poddar, died a few hours later.
Ashish had been told by the private hospital that the antiviral remdesivir and tocilizumab, a drug that blunts human immune responses, were needed to keep the 68-year-old man alive.
Like most hospitals and pharmacies in the Indian capital, supplies had run out. Desperate, Poddar turned to a dealer who promised the drugs after taking an advance of almost $1,000.
“It’s nearby” and “coming” read some of the texts that Ashish received as he waited.
“I wish he had at least told me that he isn’t going to come. I could have searched elsewhere,” the grieving son said.
On Thursday, the country of nearly 1.4 billion people set another global record in new infections with more than 379,000. India has now recorded over 18 million cases, behind only the US and over 200,000 deaths — though the true number is believed to be higher.
India allows mildly ill patients to be given hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, drugs used for certain tropical diseases – though there is little evidence they work against COVID-19.
The World Health Organization strongly recommends against hydroxychloroquine’s use for COVID-19 of any severity and against using ivermectin except in studies.
While India is a leading producer of medicine, its regulation of drugs was poor even before the pandemic — and growing despair is driving people to try anything.
Dr. Amar Jesani, a medical ethics expert, said many prescription drugs can be bought over the counter, including emergency medicines Indian authorities have approved for COVID-19.
“Hospitals and doctors are so used to having a ‘magic bullet’ that will cure you,” he said, explaining the use of unproven drugs.
Black market prices for remdesivir have surged up to 20-fold to about $1,000 for a single vial, said Siddhant Sarang, a volunteer with Yuva Halla Bol, a youth activist group helping people find medicines and hospital beds.
With demand sky high, black market dealers are insisting on cash upfront, said Sarang.
“People are going to dealers with 200,000 to 300,000 rupees ($2,700-$4,000) in a suitcase,” he said.
With Post wires