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Workers upload oxygen cylinders at a hospital in Lalitpur, Nepal in May 2021. Photo: Sunil Pradhan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dozens of countries are facing oxygen shortages so acute that they threaten to result in the "total collapse" of their health systems, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported Monday.

Why it matters: Many of these countries already faced oxygen shortages before the pandemic. Increased demand from COVID-19, coupled with low vaccination rates, could leading to devastating results, per the Bureau.

The big picture: The countries facing severe oxygen shortages include Argentina, Iran, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and South Africa, among others.

  • These nations have seen marked increases in demand for oxygen the past few months.
  • In several of these countries, "fewer than one in 10 people have received a dose of a vaccine," the Bureau noted.

The ongoing crisis in India has already had rollover effects. Oxygen shortages have contributed to India's staggering death toll, prompting authorities to ban the export of liquid and cylinder oxygen.

  • But many countries in the region — Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, among others — rely on Indian oxygen exports and have been experiencing huge surges in demand.
  • "Oxygen shortages have already been reported, and the Bureau’s data shows that Nepal needs more than 100 times as much oxygen as it needed in March," noted the Bureau.

What they're saying: “We could see the total collapse of health systems, especially in countries with very fragile systems," Robert Matiru, chair of the Covid-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce, told the Bureau.

  • "We should have known India would happen after seeing what happened in Latin America. And now looking at Asia, we should know this will happen in some of the big cities in Africa," Leith Greenslade, coordinator of the Every Breath Counts Coalition, told the Bureau.
  • “Rapidly rising need for oxygen puts pressure on the health system, which it can’t meet, and we see patient deaths,” said Greenslade.
  • “And that will keep happening week after week, month after month, if the vaccine rollout is slow, because at this point, in many of these countries, it’s only increases in vaccine coverage that will bend the curve on transmission.”

Go deeper

Updated 18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Data emerge showing more differences between COVID vaccines — Pfizer says data suggests COVID vaccine boosters are warranted — EU pledges 200 million vaccine doses to Africa, low-income nations.
  2. Health: NIH launches massive project to study long COVID — Pandemic didn't lead to spike in uninsured.
  3. Politics: 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers — Axios-Ipsos poll: 60% of voters back Biden vaccine mandates.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Sep 1, 2021 - Health

Texas school temporarily closes after two teachers die from COVID-19 in a week

American and Texas state flag. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A school in Texas closed for the rest of the week on Tuesday after two teachers died from COVID-19 within a week, the Waco Tribune-Herald reports.

State of play: The campus at Connally Junior High School won't open until after Labor Day for deep sanitation, after sixth-grade social studies teacher Natalia Chansler died on Aug. 28, having notified the school three days earlier that she tested positive for COVID-19.

Sep 1, 2021 - Sports

Washington Nationals, VP Bob Boone part ways after vaccine mandate

Washington Nationals VP Bob Boone. Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

The Washington Nationals and Vice President Bob Boone are parting ways over the team's vaccine mandate for all full-time staff, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Driving the news: The Nationals informed staff of the vaccine mandate on Aug. 14. Employees had until Aug. 26 to provide either proof of full vaccination or one dose of the vaccine or apply for an exemption, per WashPost.

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