Delta variant brings disaster to countries awaiting covid-19 vaccines
Indonesia, where Covid-19 cases have reached new highs, reported around 500 deaths per day over the past week, nearly triple the daily levels recorded in early June, according to data from its ministry of Health. Authorities are rushing to add hospital beds as medical workers in parts of the country face a shortage of ventilators and isolation rooms. Patients travel for hours to receive proper medical care, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which operates a hospital in West Java province and recently set up emergency tents. on hand to accommodate the flow.
“Every day we see this Delta variant bringing Indonesia closer to the edge of a Covid-19 disaster,” said Jan Gelfand, who heads the group’s delegation to the country recently. “We need lightning-fast global action to ensure countries like Indonesia have access to the vaccines needed to prevent tens of thousands of deaths.”
In the UK, on the other hand, the variant is dominant and increased reported daily cases by 67% last week compared to the previous week, but deaths are down 1.6%, according to government data. . Israel, another wealthy country with high immunization levels, reported small new epidemics but only one death in the last two weeks of June, according to data from the World Health Organization. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, where the variant is very common, says vaccines are effective against it. “If you look at the share of the fully vaccinated population in the United States and around the world, it’s drastically different, and so are the dynamics of the infection,” he said.
The discrepancy is the result of months of inequitable vaccine supplies that have left the developing world exposed. The US and UK have fully vaccinated about half of their populations, but on the African continent just over 1% of people have been fully vaccinated. Mortues in Zambia are full and patients are dying in hospital corridors in South Africa awaiting treatment.
The normally busy streets of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka have been silenced by a lockdown. WHO data shows that deaths in the last week of June, numbering 716, were almost three times higher than the first week. In India, where the Delta variant was first detected and contributed to a massive increase in April and May, around 4% of people were fully vaccinated. Indonesia has doubled about 5% of its population, according to data from the country’s health ministry.
Like many developing countries, Indonesia has struggled to compete with wealthier countries to get enough vaccines for its 270 million people, with most of its current supply coming from Chinese company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. . She has ordered vaccines produced by Western companies Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE and Novavax Inc. but does not expect to receive them until August and September. Japan recently donated around one million doses of AstraZeneca PLC vaccine to Indonesia and the United States has pledged four million doses of vaccine from Moderna Inc., small volumes for the fourth-largest country. populated by the world.
There are signs of an increasing demand for vaccines as cases increase. In Tangerang, a suburb of the capital Jakarta, long queues formed outside a vaccination center in late June and police were dispatched to enforce social distancing. Local authorities later decreed that vaccines would only be available to area residents as they sought to deter residents of surrounding neighborhoods from overcrowding the facility.
The Indonesian government, which had long resisted tighter Covid-19 restrictions, on Thursday announced new restrictions for hard-hit areas on the islands of Java and Bali, including limiting export-oriented factories to 50% of staff for two and a half weeks. Schools have moved online and places of worship and shopping malls have closed in these areas, which include major cities such as Jakarta and Bandung.
“In recent days, the Covid-19 pandemic has progressed extremely rapidly, because of the new variant,” President Joko Widodo said in a speech. “The situation is forcing us to take stronger action.”
Delta is estimated to be at least twice as contagious as the original version of the virus and is now present in 85 countries. Indonesian authorities have detected it on each of the archipelago’s four most populous islands – Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan – and the country’s weak health system is struggling to cope. Indonesia has half the number of doctors per capita than India and Thailand, according to the WHO.
As head of the emergency room at Muhammadiyah Lamongan Hospital in East Java Province, Dr Corona Rintawan said he recently had to decide which of his four patients who were struggling to breathe would get the last one. intensive care bed. He chose a 60-year-old man with no major underlying condition over the other three, one of whom had kidney disease and two were elderly. Two of the three died of respiratory failure in hospital, he said.
“I chose the one who can most likely be saved,” he said.
A hospital in Banten province is responding to calls from families in the neighboring metropolitan area of Jakarta who are in desperate need of beds for their sick relatives, said emergency doctor Dr Ririek Andri. Isolation rooms are full and Covid-19 patients are crammed into the available space on the hospital floor. “What else should we do? He said.
At the end of last month, volunteers from civil society group LaporCovid-19 called 95 hospitals in the Jakarta area looking for an intensive care bed for a 59-year-old man who needed a ventilator. . None of the hospitals were able to help and the patient died shortly after, the group said. The group, which collects district-level data on the spread of Covid-19, said Thursday it could no longer help families looking for hospital beds due to widespread shortages.
“It probably hasn’t peaked yet,” said co-founder Ahmad Arif. “But the situation is already extremely worrying.”
This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing
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