Stories of patients dying for lack of oxygen in Delhi hospitals have focused international attention on where this life-sustaining gas comes from. Oxygen is all around us in the air we breathe, but when our lungs become inflamed and damaged, as they do during severe coronavirus infections, it makes it harder for them to absorb enough oxygen to meet the body’s needs. All of our cells need oxygen to survive, and as blood oxygen levels begin to fall, our organs and tissues begin to starve. To combat this, patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19 are often given supplemental oxygen.

As coronavirus cases in India have soared, medical oxygen consumption has risen eight-fold, and dozens of hospitals in Delhi and elsewhere have reported running out of the supplies they need to keep patients alive. Various countries have responded with offers of oxygen cylinders, concentrators and cryogenic tanks to transport ultra-cold liquid oxygen, while organizations such as UNICEF are working with their partners to buy and install oxygen generation plants in hospitals.

Netherland donated 449 ventilators, 100 oxygen concentrators, and other medical supplies; and Poland donated 100 oxygen concentrators earlier today. Arindam Bagchi, representative of Ministry of External Affairs tweeted, “International collaboration continues. Thank our EU partners for this support”.

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