India: People hire agents to stand in queue for Covid-19 drug Remdesivir

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As the COVID-19 cases are spiraling at an alarming rate, the demand for COVID-19 essential drug Remdesivir has increased manifold.

In Tamil Nadu’s Chennai, long queues have been witnessed at Remdesivir counters at Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital (KMCH). Owing to long queues, people are paying agents and locals ₹500 -₹1,500 to stand in for them in the drug queue.

V Rama Rao, a social activist, said he got about five calls on Friday alone from elderly people who wanted the drug but couldn’t get it. “So, we are seeking the help of some volunteers and known persons to stand in queue for us in return for some money.”

The KMCH counter is witnessing a huge crowd as at least 2,000 people are gathering up daily in order to get the anti-viral drug. However, only 500 people are able to get the drug. The counter opens at 9 am, however, people start lining up from 5 am.

A public health official said, “Every day at 5 pm, there is a struggle to close the counters as public are enraged; many threaten road rokos.”

A directorate of medical services official said hospitals were told to only to prescribe the drug based on WHO guidelines. “As panic has been created due to shortage of supply. The government has placed an order for about 4.5 lakh vials. Many doctors are prescribing it out of fear so that patients don’t question them,” said the official.

Senior health officials said that the drug is being used judiciously at government hospitals. “We have instructed private hospitals to use it only when required.”