55% of Covid19 Patients in India Had to Use Connections to Get ICU Beds: Survey
More than half of Covid19 patients in India were forced to use their social clout and connections to secure ICU beds for treatment, a new survey has found.
Conducted by Local Circles, the survey received more than 17,000 responses and encompassed 309 districts across the country.
More than 8,500 people responded to questions about the ease of access to ICU beds for patients. While 5% weren’t able to secure an ICU bed at all, 55% stated they had to use “connections or clout” to get a space, while the rest said they either had to follow up extensively with hospitals, amplify their requests on social media, or reach out to government officials for help. Only 13% of respondents got ICU beds through the routine process.
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Almost 9,000 people responded to queries on the roadblocks to sourcing drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab to manage the infection. Only 13% were able to procure these medications through hospitals without any hiccups, while as many as 20% couldn’t source them at all. The rest had to resort to either over-paying or bribing hospital staff to access such medication. While the government has stated that Remdesivir is only meant for use in hospitals and shouldn’t be sold at local chemist shops, the report found that several hospitals, too, couldn’t source Remdesivir and asked Covid19 patients’ families to secure it instead. Hospitals’ lack of direct Remdesivir supply “has led to widespread panic, hoarding, real and artificial shortages, and hence black-marketing is taking place rampantly,” the survey notes.
“By and large, only people with clout and connections are able to secure them while the common man runs from pillar to post. … This is evident from thousands of posts that one can see daily on social media where individuals are scrambling to find [ICU beds] for their family and friends that are critically ill with Covid19,” the survey stated. In fact, according to a Times of India report, on Sunday alone, there were 27,000 posts on Facebook and 13,000 on Instagram from people struggling to procure Remdesivir.
The findings of the survey are even more alarming at a point when states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, as well as the national capital of Delhi, are dealing with oxygen shortages amid rapidly escalating infections — so much so, that the government has directed states to divert all industrial oxygen supplies for medical purposes.