- India remains the epicentre of the coronavirus.
- Virus is spreading more in the countries with weak health infrastructure.
- Vaccination shortage may get real.
A week ago, the World Health Organisation had expressed concern about the rising COVID-19 cases in many countries – all having low per capita incomes.
“India remains hugely concerning. But it’s not only India that has emergency needs. Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt are just some of the countries that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations,” Director General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said during his May 14 briefing.
The WHO chief’s remarks have been now validated by the COVID-19 numbers for the month of May. In Nepal, 36% of total COVID-19 cases have been reported in May 2021. In Sri Lanka, of the total cases since the onset of pandemic, 39% have been reported in current month. With a lower base, the situation is far worse in places like Cambodia and Vietnam, that have seen a sudden spike of cases in the month of May. Cambodia has reported 50% of its COVID-19 infections in the month of May, while for Vietnam, the number stands at 51%.
The worst part is that in all these countries, the health apparatus is very weak – to put it mildly.
The WHO prescribes a doctor population ratio of 1:1000. For Vietnam, the number stands at 0.88:1000, for Nepal at 0.7486:1000; and Cambodia has paltry 0.14:1000. Only Sri Lanka is above par with a doctor population ratio of 1.04:1000. But the important thing to note here is that that the 1:1000 ratio by WHO was meant for the pre-pandemic times. When a pandemic of this magnitude hits a country, the ratio become redundant, and the demand for doctors increase.
What is more worrying is the fact that many of these countries were dependent on India for their vaccination pipeline. India, which has been hit hard by the second wave, has curbed the export of the vaccines made in the country. India remains the epicentre of the pandemic, with more than 135,000 death in two months and crumbling infrastructure.