More medical oxygen urgently needed to fight COVID-19

Yemen 2021 © MSF

As COVID-19 continues to spread and vaccines remain unavailable in most countries, it’s critical that health systems have an adequate supply of oxygen to help treat severely ill people. “Oxygen is the single most important medicine for severe and critical COVID-19 patients, yet oxygen supply is often insufficient," says Dr. Marc Biot, director of operations for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). “Unstable oxygen supplies kill.”

Oxygen production infrastructure has been neglected in low- and middle-income countries for decades, leading to more deaths from pneumonia, obstetric and neonatal conditions, and a host of other illnesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the urgent need for oxygen into sharp focus. “This past week’s catastrophe in India has again highlighted just how critical oxygen is for COVID-19 patients,” says Dr. Biot. “Many other countries have already faced such disasters and many more may soon confront this same, deadly reality.”