ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — India has experienced four days of COVID-19 diagnoses exceeding 400,000 daily cases and about 4,000 deaths per day. One of the main issues relating to India’s COVID-19 struggle is the lack of resources available to individuals, hospitals and vaccination sites. This includes oxygen resource limitations and hospital bed availability as well as vaccine shortages. With the second-largest country population, India is home to almost 1.4 billion citizens, putting the country at high risk of the rapid spread of infectious disease. A recent announcement indicates that Google’s technological aid to India may accelerate COVID-19 relief efforts in the country.
COVID-19 in India
During the onset of the pandemic in 2020, India thought it had escaped the worst of COVID-19 in comparison to countries like the United States where the virus hit hard. This fortuitous occurrence did not last long as COVID-19 hit India was hit with a second wave in early 2021, after months of steady control and management. Now, the country is unable to keep up with the number of deaths to make for proper funeral or cremation arrangements, so people are resorting to leaving bodies in the Ganges River.
Home to one in three globally reported COVID-19 deaths, India holds a significantly lower percentage of vaccinated citizens due to a lack of resources, inadequate funding and the inability to keep up with the increasingly alarming rates of diagnosis and deaths. In an effort to aid the recent COVID-19 surge in India, Google developed new technology to better mitigate the pandemic in India. On May 10, 2021, Google announced new technological efforts in India.
Google’s Technological Aid to India
Google’s technological aid to India focuses on helping people all around India find vaccination or testing centers and track the availability of hospital resources. Google worked in conjunction with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to show the locations of 23,000 vaccination centers nationwide as well as 2,500 testing centers on Google Search and Google Maps. Google is also testing a new Q&A feature in Maps that allows people to query and share local information regarding the availability of hospital beds and medical oxygen in specific locations.
The company is also developing a program in India that will combat misinformation regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines. The program works in Google searches, displaying information about vaccines, including vaccine safety, possible side effects and the effectiveness of the vaccine. It will also provide people with information about registering for vaccinations and it will connect to Co-Win, a site based in India that guides people to register for vaccinations. This developed technology allows for a more informed, aware, and eventually, vaccinated society, Apart from technological aid, Google also raised more than $4.6 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in India.
The Road Ahead
Granted the population of India is more than three times that of the United States, the proportion of Indian citizens full vaccinated is only 2.5% compared to 32% of the U.S. population. With a low vaccination rate and a seven-day average of 391,000 COVID-19 cases per day and more than 246,000 total deaths, India will tremendously benefit from Google’s contributions.
With the ability to locate resources and acquire information on resource availability along with significant funding, there is hope that the current COVID-19 situation in India will improve remarkably. Google’s technological aid to India is promising for the Indian people and for the rest of the developing world as technological advancements will accelerate COVID-19 relief in low-income regions around the world.
– Kylie Lally