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Physicists launch initiative to help India during its catastrophic COVID-19 surge


India is currently experiencing a spiralling increase in coronavirus cases amid the second wave of the pandemic. In April alone, the country witnessed 6.6 million cases as the total number of cases rose to 21 million. Daily reported deaths are around 3000 and the total number of deaths due to coronavirus has surpassed 200,000. Vaccination programmes are scaling up across the country but are often hindered by a shortage of vaccines.

The enormity of the COVID-19 crisis has affected the loved ones of many of our CERN community members from India. India’s hospitals are under incredible pressure with the rising number of patients and are running out of medical supplies such as oxygen concentrators to treat everyone in need. To help address this crisis, some members of the HEP community have organised a fundraising initiative to purchase ventilators, oxygen concentrators, PPE and other medical supplies that are running critically low in India.

“Scientists in the particle physics community are trying to facilitate the purchase of ventilators based on a simplified design that emerged from a partnership between particle physicists and industry and has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. We’re talking to medical supply vendors and government contacts to get the ventilators delivered to the government of India and help deploy them in India,” says Meenakshi Narain, physicist and member of the CMS collaboration. “I’m really thankful that our spokesperson, Luca Malgeri, was kind enough to broadcast the fundraising initiative to the spokespersons of the other experiments. It’s amazing to have that community at CERN.”

In these tough times, people are supporting each other to find hospital beds and oxygen supplies but the lack of resources is worrying. The rising prevalence of variants and the surge in coronavirus cases in India are having global repercussions. Helping the country’s COVID-19 victims and front-line workers in any way possible is a small step towards stopping a global crisis.