According to the Associated Press, “the pandemic is prompting soaring demand for oxygen.” Medical oxygen is expensive and hard to get and is a basic marker of inequality both between and within countries. “It's in short supply from Peru to Bangladesh.”
AP’s exclusive report states, “Across Africa, only a handful of hospitals have direct oxygen hookups, as is standard across Europe and the United States. And most medical facilities lack even the most basic equipment needed to help patients breathe.”
In wealthy nations, it would be absurd for a hospital or medical facility to lack or have a shortage of something as fundamental as oxygen. The short supply in Africa is lethal, where South Africa is being viewed as a potential new hotspot with a recorded 111 people as its highest daily death toll.
Africa’s poor and unfortunate are left gasping for air and in some remote villages there is no oxygen to be found at all.
For many severe COVID patients radically low blood-oxygen levels is the primary danger. Oxygen in large quantities is important for recovery. “Oxygen is also used for the treatment of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, the single largest cause of death in children worldwide.”
Until recently, oxygen was not on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. The situation looks dire in countries like Congo, where only 2% of healthcare facilities have oxygen and in Tanzania, reporting a low 8% of its facilities having oxygen.
In the meantime, in the United States, where oxygen is plentiful, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a plea for people to avoid crowds and wear masks.