Silicon Valley Tech Leaders Organize Relief For India’s Covid-19 Crisis

As India faces a second deadly wave of Covid-19 that has killed more than 250,000 people and the ability of hospitals to house and care for the sick, several Silicon Valley technology and venture capital executives have gathered resources to help address the crisis.

“This is a huge crisis,” says Navin Chaddha, CEO of Mayfield venture capital, who says he has lost college friends to the virus. “As a venture industry and entrepreneurs, we need to get more than money, we need to give our time.”As of May, the philanthropic branch of Mayfield raised about a million dollars and delivered 1000 oxygen concentrators to India, he says. The organization has partnered with local organizations like Oxygen for India to ensure supplies reach the places where the need is greatest.

To date, India’s Ministry of Health has reported a total of 23 million cases with 262,317 deaths. About 4,000 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Hospitals are running out of basic life-saving medical devices such as oxygen cylinders and concentrators.

A new local strain, B 1,617, potentially more infectious than the original and a lax public health response contributed to the increase, health experts say. “There were so many political meetings, religious meetings, social gatherings,” Anant Bhan, a public health and bioethics researcher at Bhopal, told Forbes.

Social media is flooded with images of crematoria overflowing with bodies of Covid-19 patients. “A lot of people didn’t even have the money to go get the bodies, unfortunately, from hospitals, or to take them to the cremation area,” Chaddha says.Last month, billionaire and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said on Twitter that he would work to fund hospitals in India and solicit help from others in the tech industry. “I will coordinate grants and supply through @ GiveIndia @atulsatija. Please make your requests to them directly and please contribute to their efforts as well. The needs are great, ” Khosla said in an April 24 tweet. In addition, the Khosla family made a combined donation of $ 10 million to the non-profit organization GiveIndia.

Salesforce, a cloud software company co-founded by Marc Benioff, shipped a Boeing 787 to India earlier last month with more than 2,000 oxygen concentrators and 10,000 pulse oximeters. The company plans to ship another plane this month with more oxygen concentrators, says Ryan Aytay, its business director. Meanwhile, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey announced a $15 million donation to Indian-based non-governmental organizations.

Even with additional supplies reaching India from these and other sources, there are concerns about whether they are reaching regions where the need is greatest and whether hospitals have adequate beds for patients who urgently need oxygen. At another venture capital firm, Foundation Capital, general partner Ashu Garg started an initiative called One more Breath to address what he calls a “last mile”problem. “Airports are full of oxygen concentrators. Everyone is bringing things in, but there is still no clarity about which hospitals need the supply,” Garg says.

His team has partnered with local humanitarian groups who are examining how to make room for new beds in existing hospitals. Garg says they’ll have at least 500 new oxygen beds ready by the end of May. One more Breath expects to raise $ 2.2 million to install 1,400 beds by mid-June.

Much more help is likely to be needed, as several states in India discontinued vaccines for people in the 18-44 age group due to shortages. So far, less than 2 per cent of the country & apos; s 1.3 billion inhabitants have been fully vaccinated. “It’s just heartbreaking,” Garg says.

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