Skip to content

India’s Desperate Hunt for Oxygen

A priest who works at a crematorium is seen amid burning funeral pyres of patients who died of Covid-19 in New Delhi.

A priest who works at a crematorium is seen amid burning funeral pyres of patients who died of Covid-19 in New Delhi.

Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images AsiaPac

Here’s the latest news from the global pandemic.

After a new coronavirus variant unleashed a brutal wave of infections in India, taking thousands of lives and sending millions to overcrowded and poorly equipped hospitals, demand has shot up for little known machines that separate oxygen from air and assist patients with low levels of the critical element in their blood.

The demand for oxygen concentrators is felt all the way around the world, including in the small Swiss town of Wil, where Raphael Koch, a retailer of medical devices, has spent the past few weeks fielding a flurry of phone calls. Most are from Indians or India-based companies looking for oxygen concentrators, with some even wanting as many as 500 at once.