India’s devastating COVID-19 crisis

03 May 2021

India is facing a devastating COVID-19 outbreak. Having successfully managed the first pandemic wave in 2020, the country is now reeling from the gravity of a deadly second wave that is infecting over 300,000 people every single day. Heartbreaking scenes of patients lying outside hospitals on stretchers or inside cars due to a lack of beds have circulated around the world, and a severe scarcity of oxygen is contributing to a death toll that is running sky-high. The last 24 hours alone (3 May) saw 392,000 new cases and 3,689 deaths, according to the WHO.

As part of the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Mechanism 2021, the Global Fund is urgently processing a fast-track funding application from India’s Country Coordinating Mechanism to purchase oxygen concentrators and to finance Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants to help meet the medium-term needs for medical oxygen. We are working closely with the Government of India and national partners to identify solutions to the most critical needs.

The Global Fund is also working with international partners to support India. In February 2021, the COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce was launched by Unitaid and the Wellcome Trust as co-leaders of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) Therapeutics Pillar, to respond to the surging oxygen emergency in low- and middle-income countries. The taskforce brings together key organizations including Unitaid, the Wellcome Trust, the Global Fund, WHO, Unicef, World Bank, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), PATH, the Every Breath Counts coalition and Save the Children.

In 2020, the Global Fund supported India with over US$36.8 million dollars through the COVID-19 Response Mechanism and grant savings and reprogramming to rapidly adapt and mitigate the pandemic’s impact on HIV, TB and malaria programs and to directly fight COVID-19. This funding supported various activities, including the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and community health workers, laboratory strengthening and the procurement of testing equipment, and supporting community health systems. This funding also supported adaptive measures that were adopted to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and malaria programs – for instance by decentralizing the delivery of antiretrovirals to ensure that HIV patients had continued access to vital medicines.

In addition to addressing the COVID-19 crisis, the Global Fund continues to be a strong supporter of India’s fight against HIV, TB and malaria. To date, the Global Fund has disbursed over US$2.3 billion in grant support to India to fight HIV, TB and malaria, including over US$1.2 billion for HIV programs; over US$888 million for tuberculosis programs; over US$28 million for joint HIV-TB programs; and over US$226 million for malaria programs.