People in India are rushing unnecessarily to hospital, exacerbating a crisis over surging COVID-19 infections caused by mass gatherings, more contagious variants and low vaccination rates, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.
India's death toll is now pushing towards 200,000, and hospitals that do not have enough oxygen supplies and beds are turning away coronavirus patients.
The WHO is providing critical equipment and supplies to India, including 4,000 oxygen concentrators, which only require an energy source, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.
Less than 15 percent of people infected with COVID-19 actually need hospital care and even fewer will need oxygen, he said.
"Currently, part of the problem is that many people rush to the hospital (also because they do not have access to information/advice), even though home-based care monitoring at home can be managed very safely," Jasarevic said.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Community-level centres should screen and triage patients and provide advice on safe home care, while information is also made available via hotlines or dashboards, he said.
"As is true in any country, WHO has said the combination of relaxing of personal protective measures, mass gatherings and more contagious variants while vaccine coverage is still low can create a perfect storm," he said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.