The black market ‘drains the blood’ of Indian Covid-19 patients

The black market 'drains the blood' of Indian Covid-19 patients 2

So, a local charity couldn’t contain its anger when a supplier more than doubled the price of oxygen cylinders, to nearly $200 each.

Police said the supplier was essentially a scrapyard.

Covid-19 patient receiving oxygen at a Sikh church in New Delhi, India, last month.

`This guy should be charged with murder,` Mukesh Khanna, a volunteer at the charity, said of the owner of the fraudulent oxygen tank business.

The second wave of Covid-19 is severely devastating the Indian health system and weakening confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in its efforts to protect people and control the pandemic.

But this difficulty is an opportunity for those profiteering from the pandemic.

`These cyber criminals are always there,` said Muktesh Chander, Delhi police commissioner.

Sometimes goods sold on the black market are counterfeit and sometimes pose a potential risk of harm.

Over the past month, New Delhi police have arrested more than 210 people on charges of fraud, speculation, criminal conspiracy or fraud related to Covid-19.

`I have witnessed many horrifying acts of bloodsucking in all its various forms, but this level of cruelty and depravity is the first I have seen in my 36-year career,` Vikram Singh said.

Fraud and profiteering show the dark side of the massive online help system that was created to fill the void left by the government.

However, this system also has limitations.

This further motivates the black market to develop.

The black market 'drains the blood' of Indian Covid-19 patients

Staff transported oxygen cylinders at a hospital in New Delhi last month.

Rohit Shukla, a university student in New Delhi, said that after his grandmother passed away late last month, an ambulance driver demanded up to 70 USD for the nearly 5 km trip from the hospital to the crematorium, high.

The gap between supply and demand may be the reason for the increase in prices of some goods and services, but Shukla suspects the root cause is deeper than that.

`Everyone is looking for ways to profit from the pandemic,` he said.

Some doctors in India are using plasma from people who have recovered from Covid-19 to treat patients.

Cyber investigators are trying to help by exposing scammers on social media platforms.

Female student Helly Malviya denounced a post on Twitter as a scam because it advertised a medicine that was said to be able to treat Covid-19, but the seller demanded an advance payment of 2,000 USD before delivery.

`People face such helplessness every day,` she said.

The antiviral drug remdesivir has become the focus of many scams.

The Surin family from the city of Lucknow recently paid more than 1,400 USD to a middleman to buy 6 vials of remdesivir.

`What more can I do?`, Surin said.

Dr. Jawed Khan, the hospital owner who prescribed remdesivir for the Surin family but was unable to provide it, said the family could buy it themselves and doctors would check by evaluating the bottle and label.

Police in the western Indian state of Gujarat discovered thousands of fake remdesivir tubes last month in a crackdown operation.

Many other drugs may have been sold in the market and administered to patients, creating a danger to public health, Gujarat police emphasized.

People who go to the black market often know their situation clearly and understand that they are `gambling`.

The black market 'drains the blood' of Indian Covid-19 patients

A field hospital in New Delhi.

Anirudh Singh Rathore, 59, a fabric trader in New Delhi, was desperately searching for remdesivir for his sick wife, Sadhna.

Through social networks, Rathore found someone willing to sell 4 vials of remdesivir but at a price 5 times higher than normal.

Rathore was suspicious but Sadhna’s blood oxygen levels were dropping and they didn’t know where to turn.

Rathore filed a police report and one of the sellers was arrested but he could not avoid feeling guilty.

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