February 26

COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Impacting More Than Half a Million People in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Every Day, as Demand Surges

By Hervé Verhoosel and Charlotte Baker

Since the start of the pandemic, affordable and sustainable access to oxygen has been a growing challenge in low- and middle-income countries.

COVID-19 has put huge pressure on health systems, with hospitals in many LMICs running out of oxygen, resulting in preventable deaths and families of hospitalised patients paying a premium for scarce oxygen supplies.

Oxygen is an essential medicine, and despite being vital for the effective treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, access in LMICs is limited due to cost, infrastructure and logistical barriers. Health facilities often cannot access the oxygen they require, resulting in the unnecessary loss of lives.

Recognising the central importance of sustainable oxygen supply – alongside therapeutic products such as dexamethasone – for the treatment of COVID-19, the Access to COVID Tools Accelerator Therapeutics pillar (co-led by Unitaid and Wellcome), is taking a new role to coordinate and advocate for increased supply of oxygen, and, in partnership with a WHO-led consortium[1], is today announcing the launch of a COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce.

Photo courtesy of coyot.

Source: WHO (link opens in a new window)

Coronavirus, Health Care