What steps must be taken to secure oxygen – for COVID-19 patients and into the future

India recently announced the importation of 10,000 oxygen concentrators By Trevor Duke New waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in countries, such as Kenya and India, have exposed the poor management of oxygen supplies. Moina Spooner, from The Conversation Africa, asked Professor Trevor Duke, an expert on and editor of the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on oxygen therapy for children, to provide insights into what countries, with limited resources, can do to secure better supplies. Why is oxygen so important for treating COVID-19? The SARS CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19 pneumonia and hypoxaemia. Hypoxaemia is a lack of oxygen in the blood – the most important complication of COVID-19 pneumonia and a major cause of death. A few antiviral drugs have been effective in treating COVID-19 infection however, in severe pneumonia, oxygen relieves hypoxaemia. It can allow time for the infection to clear and the lungs to heal. For many people affected by COVID-19, oxygen is lifesaving. What are the challenges getting oxygen to patients? Low and middle income countries face huge hurdles in getting oxygen to patients.

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