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Last Updated : Sep 16, 2020 03:01 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Denial of treatment: COVID patient's death puts spotlight on ICU shortage in Bengaluru

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike is currently conducting a probe into his death.

Representative image
Representative image

A 46-year old man who sought treatment for COVID=19 at a Bomannahalli hospital in Bengaluru died after the hospital refused to give him a bed fearing that his condition will worsen. This comes in the wake of a shortage of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the city, a problem that began almost five days ago, Deccan Herald reported.

Speaking to the paper, Tauseef Ahmed of the NGO Mercy Angels, said he was turned away even though the patient's oxygen saturation level was too low. "His oxygen saturation was 40 percent but the hospital would not allot the bed. Instead, they tried to move him to Apollo Hospital. He died while en route," Ahmed said.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is currently conducting an investigation into his death.


"We are now facing this problem because the Department of Health and Family Welfare did not properly assess the available beds within private hospitals. Most of the figures provided to them were bogus," said a health official on condition of anonymity.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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According to government data available, there are 144 ICU ventilator beds in government hospitals and medical colleges in the city, plus 418 such beds in private hospitals or medical colleges. However not a single bed was available on September 16, the report said.

Officially, there are 263 COVID-19 patients under ICU care in the city, which translates to an occupancy rate of 46.7 percent, but officials and field volunteers say that many of these beds are being used by private quota patients.

According to the report, Omprakash Patil, Director of the Department OF Health and Family Welfare (DoHFW) acknowledged the ongoing problem. "When asked about why government quota beds have been given to private patients, the hospitals say it is difficult to turn away a private patient requiring a ventilator," Patil said.

According to a senior BBMP official, the inflow of people from surrounding districts where medical infrastructure is weak also adds to this problem. "There are many people from surrounding districts such as Tumkuru and Kolar, claiming residency in the city and occupying beds in Bengaluru hospitals. This is aggravating the shortage," the official said.
First Published on Sep 16, 2020 03:01 pm