The funeral pyres in New Delhi tell the tragic story of an uncontrolled Covid-19 wave.
For a world that’s grown numb to wave after wave of infection, the images of patients dying due to a lack of oxygen while others lie untended on the floor are a brutal reminder that this pandemic is far from over.
In late March, in a desperate attempt to curb infection, the Indian government restricted the export of Covid-19 vaccines from its giant manufacturing hubs, to meet some of the country’s more urgent needs. Now, the consequences of that move are playing out across the world.
The second dose won’t come
In the halls of Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, teachers, hospitality workers and taxi drivers patiently wait for their first precious Covid-19 AstraZeneca shot.
In early March, Kenya received just over 1 million doses from the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access alliance, COVAX, the vaccine-sharing initiative that provides free and discounted doses for lower-income countries. Kenya has been one of the most efficient African nations at getting the vaccines into the arms of at-risk groups.
COVAX is largely reliant on India’s vaccine manufacturers who no longer supply the program because of India’s own Covid crisis.
Kenyans who qualify for doses are already struggling to find them. Beatrice Gatu, a 60-year-old retired medical secretary, said she tried several district hospitals to find a dose – but they had run out. They said she should try Kenyatta hospital, the nation’s main referral hospital.
“I woke up at five in the morning just to get myself prepared to come to this place,” she said, after receiving her vaccine.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta personally assured Kenyans they would be able to get their second dose if they’d received a first one.
But Martin Mutisya, a 53-year-old tour guide, has been keeping up with news – he knew he had to hurry just to get his first shot.
“I am concerned, because there are supposed to be two shots, but if that doesn’t happen, what is the worst-case scenario?” he asked.
The worst-case scenario is now happening, said World Health Organization (WHO) and Kenyan public health officials. The East African nation will run out o