See How India Is Trying to Manage a Raging COVID Crisis as the U.S. and Other Countries Send Aid
"We are determined to help India in its time of need," President Joe Biden said Sunday, after India sent aid to the United States earlier in the pandemic
India Experiences a COVID Crisis
India set a global daily record for confirmed COVID cases and deaths Sunday for the fourth straight day, according to The New York Times.
With more than 1 million new cases over the four-day period, the total has surpassed 17 million cases by Tuesday, with more than 195,000 total deaths.
Patients Dying in the Streets
Hospitals, graveyards and crematoriums have become overwhelmed with new cases and deaths.
As life-saving oxygen is in short supply, some patients have died in the streets, while searching for a hospital that can take them.
Crematoriums Are Overwhelmed
Meanwhile, crematoriums have had to increase their funeral pyres, lighting up the night sky. In the city of Bhopal, some have had to increase their capacity from 12 pyres to 50, according to The Washington Post.
Families Perform Rushed Last Rites
Many families have had to perform last rites for loved ones over their pyres, as the overwhelming influx at crematoriums has not left time for sacred Hindu ceremonies.
“The virus is swallowing our city’s people like a monster,” Mamtesh Sharma, an official at Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat crematorium told The Washington Post. “We are just burning bodies as they arrive. It is as if we are in the middle of a war.”
Citizens Blame the Government
Citizens are holding the government accountable for reopening the country prematurely, following a dramatic decline in case numbers during the winter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared "victory" over COVID-19 in January. The government has since been accused of releasing false numbers and information about the growing death rate.
Experts say the actual number of COVID cases could be 30 times higher than what's been reported, according to CNN.
Government Censors Critical Tweets
At least 52 tweets calling out Prime Minister Modi have been censored in India, according to the Lumen Database.
"India will never forgive PM @narendramodi for underplaying the corona situation in the country and letting so many people die due to mismanagement," wrote opposition party leader Moloy Ghatak.
India cited its Information Technology Act of 2000, which allows censorship in order to protect public order and the "sovereignty and integrity of India," according to Reuters.
India Rolls Out Ambitious Vaccination Drive
India rolled out one of the world's largest and most ambitious vaccination drives in January.
The country has administered an average of 2.6 million vaccinations a day, according to the Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker. At that rate, it would take two years for the country to vaccinate 75% of the population, or 1.38 billion people.
President Joe Biden Sends Aid
President Joe Biden announced Sunday that the United States will join several European countries in sending Aid to India. The U.S. will provide financial assistance and raw materials for vaccines.
“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” President Biden wrote Sunday on Twitter.
U.S. Criticized for Slow Response
Before their COVID surge, India was vaccinating citizens at a faster rate than the U.S. They subsequently donated vaccines to the U.S. and other countries.
Some experts are criticizing President Biden's slow response to India's current crisis, according to Yahoo Finance. "There is a humanitarian reason to do this, as well as self-interest, to prevent new variants from arriving," said Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore health commissioner.
France, Germany and the U.K. Also Pledge Aid
The U.S. joins France, Germany, and the U.K., who have also pledged aid to India.
France has promised to supply India “with significant support in terms of oxygen,” President Emmanuel Macron’s office told Agence France-Presse.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Germany is “urgently preparing a mission of support,” according to a tweet from her chief spokesman.
Meanwhile, the U.K. is shipping nine airline containers of supplies, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement that they “will continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time.”
Rival Country Pakistan Joins the Support
Neighboring country Pakistan has even offered their support, following generations of conflict with India.
“Humanitarian issues require responses beyond political consideration,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Ministry has offered ventilators, oxygen supply kits, digital X-ray machines, PPE and other life-saving supplies.