LVHN doctor with family in India weighs in on the COVID situation there

Written by on May 4, 2021

LVHN doctor with family in India weighs in on the COVID situation there

By Brittany Sweeney

May 4, 2021

People wait to cast their votes during local panchayat elections on the outskirts of Prayagraj, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Thursday, April 15, 2021. India reported more than 200,000 new coronavirus cases, skyrocketing past 14 million overall as an intensifying outbreak puts a grim weight on its fragile health care system. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

President Biden is banning most travel from India into the U.S. beginning May 4 as coronavirus cases there continue to surge. A Lehigh Valley Health Network doctor is doing what she can to help her family there.

Listen to the story.

Dr. Ranju Gupta is a hematologist and oncologist with LVHN’s Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute.

She grew up and received her medical training in India and is now offering long-distance medical help as hospitals are forced to turn people away.

“We only have about 75,000 to 90,000 intensive care unit beds in the entire country. We probably need on the order of 200,000 to 300,000 just ICU beds and ventilators which we do not have,” Gupta says. 

Healthcare is free In India and people are experiencing long lines when seeking treatment. 

She says she is advising people over the phone and using WhatsApp to communicate with family and friends in India.

Continuing to vaccinate people there is the best way to fight back against this surge, she says. 

“We have vaccinated 140 million people. If you look at just the 140 million number, it looks like a very impressive number, but if you look at a population of 1.4 billion people that need to be vaccinated, it’s peanuts,” she says.

AstraZeneca is the most common vaccine being given out in India but it is not as effective as it should be against the variants, she says. 

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