Shortage of medical supplies during this pandemic is leading to black marketing in India

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Poonam Sharma lost her husband few days back due to Covid complications. Now, she tested positive along with her 18 years old son after they notice mild symptoms of the virus. Mrs. Poonam said, ‘We are devastated. It is an irrecoverable loss. It all started with a fever and when it got worse, we decided to shift him to the hospital. But finding a bed was the task. After finding one whole day for the bed, we finally shifted him to a private hospital, but he died next day due to cardiac arrest’.

India is facing shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, while cases are rising at its own speed. People have become so desperate to save their loved ones, that they are choosing all kind of options. And recently, black marketing is dominating the current situation in the country. Drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab are being recommended by the doctors in the country for the infected person in an emergency use but the scarcity is making people helpless. Remdesivir is in high demand since the cases are also increasing the graph. Nafisa said, ‘My brother tested positive in April, and doctor asked for Remdesivir for his treatment, it was not easy to find it. But later due to my uncle’s connection we got it, and now he is perfectly fine. But I was wondering that it’s because of my uncle we saved him, what if someone doesn’t have any connections or is poor?’

India has currently banned the export of Remdesivir due to the sudden spike in the Covid cases and since the injection is for the treatment of Covid. But still according to the reports, manufacturers are finding it difficult to meet the requirements. The availability is making tough the situation and is leading to the black marketing in various cities including Delhi. Nafisa’s uncle got the Remdesivir four times expensive than the real amount of the drug in the market. She said, ‘We were not getting the Remdesivir in any chemist shop near us because everybody was saying that the stock finished, then my uncle got it. It cost us, 22,000 for 100mg vial. We somehow managed. I don’t know how pharma firms and chemist shops doesn’t have the stock while some random person is selling it. This is definitely questionable’. Not only the Remdesivir, even the oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment for Covid treatment is illegally stocked.

Nafisa is a law student and is pursuing it from Delhi. She shared her opinion on the recent incident, where police recovered 524 oxygen concentrators from three restaurants owned by businessman Navneet Kalra. She said, ‘This is just so disappointing to see people who are already rich are finding ways to make more money in such terrible and horrible situation.’ She remembered the struggle her family had gone through during managing the amount for the Remdesivir and said, ‘It was not easy. My dad is not a millionaire or a businessman. He is an employee who works in a corporate company. I don’t know he managed but he must have borrowed from someone or have withdrawn from savings, god knows. But these vultures who are doing such wrong in these painful times, should be behind the bars and pay for it’. 

According to the reports, several arrests have been happened for selling the oxygen cylinders along with Remdesivir at the price of four times higher than the actual price in the market. Pushpa is 37 years old and work as a maid. While talking to Eat News, she said, ‘My father-in-law died 10 days back due to Covid. We needed oxygen cylinder. We could not afford it at first but after managing the amount somehow, he died.’ Pushpa and her family lost their senior most member and is still recovering through the loss. They borrowed money for the treatment from friends and known. She said, ‘Government should give free treatment in this situation since it is the pandemic and every person is battling through it. At least for people like us, who hardly earns 5000 per month, is finding it impossible to manage the amount for the treatment of Covid. And now this black marketing is making it worse.’ Everyday on an average more than 30,000 requests are coming to NGOs and the organizations who is working in this sector in the country.

Pushpa while sharing her emotions said, ‘Government should take strict actions against the people who are involved in black marketing. They are no less than criminals who are in these tough times giving more tough time to people and especially to patients.’ Delhi high court mentioned how artificial shortage of oxygen is leading to black marketing and it is not a good human gesture. It also mentioned about, out of 400 metric tonnes of oxygen, 20 metric tonnes are going to ‘Seth air’ whose name is not even listed under the refillers issued by the state government of Delhi. Court hinted, he is such a big supplier and there is something wrong.

We humans always want more. And insatiable people despite of certain situation, make their way to fulfill it. Keeping humanity is a choice and definitely these people are choosing their ‘never ending wants and needs’ over it.

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Shefali Ranawat is an Eat News correspondent in India. She want to be the voice of people. Also, she aim to be a war correspondent.


Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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