India on Saturday (April 24) recorded 3.46 lakh new COVID cases in the highest daily spike of the virus in the world. The pandemic also took the lives of 2,624 people in a day in yet another dubious record. The case load of the country has now jumped to 1.66 crore with 1.89 lakh people dying so far in a devastating second wave that has forced severe strain on the country’s health infrastructure.
Family members of the affected people have been sending out desperate messages about shortage of oxygen and hospital beds.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said people are dying across the world because they are not being vaccinated and are not being tested nor treated. “The situation in India is a devastating reminder of what the virus can do,” he said.
Delhi and Maharashtra reported the highest-ever number of deaths in a single day. Maharashtra, the worst-hit state, recorded 773 COVID-linked deaths in the last 24 hours while Delhi logged 348 fatalities.
Chairing a meeting of chief ministers of the most affected states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday assured them of the Centre’s full support and asked the state governments to deal strictly with hoarding and black-marketing of essential medicines.
In a separate meeting with the leading oxygen manufacturers of the country, the Prime Minister stressed the need for good coordination between the government and the oxygen producers.
In a yet another measure to combat the pandemic, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on April 23 gave an emergency approval to Zydus Cadila’s anti-viral drug ‘Virafin’ which reportedly reduces the desperate need for oxygen among COVID patients.
Multiple trials showed that patients who were administered Virafin needed less supplemental oxygen and showed less respiratory distress and failure — a significant problem observed during the second wave of COVID-19.
Zydus Cadila has said the probability of a COVID patient recovering in seven days, after the administration of ‘Virafin’, is 80.36 per cent. In comparison, existing treatments guarantee complete recovery in only 68.18 per cent cases. ‘Virafin’ is a single dose drug which is administered subcutaneous (under the skin) regimen.