India’s COVID-19 Disaster May Be Turning Into an Even Bigger Global Crisis

High in the thin air of the Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Sherpas and climbers used to walk freely from one group of tents to another, holding gatherings, singing and dancing. Now the Sherpas who escort climbers to the summit have a new job: enforcing unofficial social-distancing rules. “Climbing Everest is always a matter…

India’s COVID-19 Disaster May Be Turning Into an Even Bigger Global Crisis

High in the thin air of the Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Sherpas and climbers used to walk freely from one group of tents to another, holding gatherings, singing and dancing. Now the Sherpas who escort climbers to the summit have a new job: enforcing unofficial social-distancing rules. “Climbing Everest is always a matter of life and death,” says Phunuru Sherpa. “But this year the risk has been doubled due to COVID.”

Already, dozens of people with suspected COVID-19 have been evacuated by helicopter. The outbreak reflects a broader one across Nepal, which shares a long, porous border with India. Daily confirmed cases in the Himalayan nation increased thirtyfold from April 11 to May 11, when 9,300 infections were recorded. It’s a grim omen of how India’s devastating COVID-19 crisis may be turning into an even bigger global emergency.

As countries around the world airlift oxygen, vaccines and medical supplies to India, they are also closing their borders to the world’s second most populous country. It may already be too late. The B.1.617 variant of the virus, first detected in India, has now been found in 44 countries on every continent except Antarctica—including Nepal, the U.S. and much of Europe. Scientists say it could be more infectious and better at avoiding humans’ immune systems. On May 10, the World Health Organization declared it a variant of “global concern.” And because only around 0.1% of positive samples in India are being genetically sequenced, “there may well be others that have emerged,” says Amita Gupta, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Clinical Global Health Education.


The true scale of the COVID-19 outbreak in India is impossible to accurately quantify. Officially, confirmed daily cases are plateauing just under 400,000 but remain higher than any other country has seen during the pandemic. Experts warn that the real numbers are far bigger, and may still be rising fast as the virus rips through rural India, where two-thirds of the population lives and where testing infrastructure is frail. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimates the true number of new daily infections is around 8 million—the equivalent of the entire population of New York City being infected every day. Official reports say 254,000 people have died in India since the start of the pandemic, but the IHME estimates the true toll is more than 750,000—a number researchers predict will double by the end of August. Since the beginning of May, dozens of bodies have washed up on the banks of the river Ganges, with some villagers saying they were forced to leave the dead in the water amid soaring funeral costs and shortages of wood for cremation.

Prakash Mathema—AFP/Getty ImagesTents at the Everest base camp in Solukhumbu, Nepal, on May 3, 2021.

Experts say that the crisis was entirely predictable, and that rich countries could have done more to prevent it. “The pandemic has once again highlighted the extreme international inequality in access to lifesaving vaccines and drugs,” says Bina Agarwal, professor of development economics and environment at the University of Manchester. The Indian government failed to order enough vaccines for its population—or ramp up its vaccination program fast enough. But, for months, the U.S. also blocked exports of crucial raw materials India needed to manufacture vaccines, and stockpiled 20 million Astra-Zeneca shots even though the FDA had not authorized their use. Although President Biden has nowchanged course, sending much-needed vaccine raw materials to India and pledging to export the Astra-Zeneca shots, it will take a long time for the country to catch up: only 2.8% of the population was fully vaccinated as of May 12.

India’s first wave, which peaked last September, was severe: by the time it started to dissipate, nearly 100,000 people had died across the country, according to official statistics. But in a country with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, it also sent another message: that India may have avoided the most damaging effects of the pandemic. Now, India’s brutal second COVID-19 wave is sparking worries that the worst is still ahead. Especially concerning are densely populated African countries, many of which have yet to experience large outbreaks. Versions of the B.1.617 variant have already been reported in Angola, Rwanda and Morocco. Many of the vaccines that could curb outbreaks in such countries were meant to come from factories in India—which has now ordered that most of its vaccine production be used to meet domestic needs.

The fresh outbreaks also threaten to set back plans for post-pandemic economic recovery. Nepal’s vital tourism sector ground to a halt in 2020. To make up lost ground, the Himalayan nation approved a record number of exception permits for Mt. Everest this year, meaning Base Camp is crowded with some 1,300 climbers, Sherpas and support staff.

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Meanwhile, tragedy is sparing few families across India. Rahul Thakkar, a 42-year-old vice president of a health care startup, died of COVID-19 on May 10—after the New Delhi ICU ward where he was being treated ran out of oxygen in late April. “When the infrastructure breaks down, being rich or poor doesn’t save you,” says Ramanan Laxminarayan, a friend of Thakkar’s. Laxminarayan, an Indian-American epidemiologist and director of the D.C.-based think tank Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, began an international fundraising campaign—raising more than $9 million to import oxygen cylinders and concentrators, which turn air into medical-grade oxygen.

The effort should never have been necessary, Laxminarayan says. While India should have invested in its pandemic preparedness, he says, developed countries share a portion of responsibility. “Even out of a sense of self-protection, rich countries should have planned much better for vaccinating the entire world and increasing production,” Laxminarayan says. “What happens in India doesn’t stay in India.”

With reporting by Rojita Adhikari/Mount Everest Base Camp, Nepal

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Top 5 Healthy Breakfasts To Start Your Day

We have options for everyone, including vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free enthusiasts, so get ready to transform your mornings with these amazing breakfast ideas!More

Top 5 Healthy Breakfasts To Start Your Day

Written By Claudia Montez / Reviewed By Ray Spotts

You've heard it a thousand times, but do you know why breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It gives you energy. It replenishes the glucose in your body and starts converting it into fuel. It can also kick-start your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day. So if you're trying to lose weight, it's an easy way to work on that fat-burning and thigh-busting.

Once you understand the importance of eating breakfast, you'll be ready to try some of these amazing healthy breakfast recipes. We have options for everyone, including vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free enthusiasts, so get ready to transform your mornings with these amazing breakfast ideas!

1. Quinoa Egg Breakfast Muffins

If you love breakfast muffins but hate the carbs that usually come with them, quinoa egg muffins are a healthier alternative. Also, they're super simple to make, and they can be frozen and re-heated for busy mornings in the future!

You start with a cup of cooked and cooled quinoa. Blend in six eggs and a smattering of salt and pepper. If you like cheese, some shredded cheddar can add both flavor and an ooey-gooey texture. You can also toss in your choice of veggies; the sky is the limit here, so feel free to experiment with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, onions and more.

When you've mixed the batter to your satisfaction, pour it into muffin tins and bake it for 20 to 25 minutes. Voila! You've just created thick, fluffy breakfast muffins without a bit of gluten!

2. Tofu Scramble

Tofu is a superfood that contains all nine essential amino acids. It's vegan and vegetarian-friendly, and it contains no sugar, fat or gluten. It's also highly versatile: You can prepare tofu in ways that mimic everything from ground beef to grilled chicken!

Tofu scrambles are quite easy to make. They use crumbled tofu like scrambled eggs, and you can customize them with whatever veggies that you have on hand.

If you like your greens, you can add spinach, kale, asparagus or broccoli. If you enjoy the spice of the southwest, you can toss in some onions, red peppers, cumin and chili powder. Put an oriental twist on it by adding some kimchi. If you live with a meat or dairy lover, you can add cheese, ham, sausage or bacon to their portion.

Preparation is also simple: Just sauté the veggies before adding the tofu to the pan. Crumble it with a fork to get a fluffy, egg-like consistency. One important side note: Make sure to drain your tofu before cooking with it!

3. Overnight Oats

Oatmeal is packed with fiber, protein, antioxidants and other nutritional benefits that make it a breakfast superfood. But what if you aren't a fan of the hot stuff? Is there a way to prepare oatmeal that's light and fresh?

The answer is yes. When you make "overnight" oats, you soak the dry oatmeal in water or milk for several hours, and the end result is a tasty, effortless meal that puts a fun twist on the traditional Quaker guy. Another great thing about overnight oats is that you can customize them in hundreds of ways:

  • Maple French Toast Oats: Cinnamon, vanilla extract, maple syrup, flaxseed
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Oats: Peanut butter, strawberry jam, almond milk
  • Banana Bread Oats: Bananas, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg
  • Moose Tracks Oats: Cocoa powder, Greek yogurt, chocolate chips

You can also eat them plain or with small slices of fruit for extra antioxidants!

4. Sheet Pan Protein Pancakes

Another great recipe for busy folks without a lot of time in the mornings, these "sheet pan" pancakes are ideal for meal prep. You can make them on the weekend and freeze them for the days ahead.

The recipe is simple, and it's pretty much identical to traditional pancakes. You'll need flour, milk, eggs, butter, baking powder and your favorite fruit such as blueberries or strawberries. For extra protein, we also recommend a scoop of protein powder.

Here's where things get interesting. Rather than pouring the batter into a griddle, you pour it into a pan and bake it! The end result is basically an extra-cakey pancake, and you can cut it into squares for perfectly proportioned meals all week long.

5. Breakfast Quesadilla

Last but not least, who doesn't love breakfast quesadillas? When you stuff them with eggs and veggies rather than fattening things like cheese and sour cream, you'll have a tasty and healthy meal to get your morning started right.

The contents can be anything that you'd like. Common ingredients include red onion, bell pepper, salsa and other things with zesty flavors, but you can customize them as you see fit. You can even indulge in some cheese as long as you use it in moderation! Crumbled feta will taste divine with some bacon or ham.

As for preparation, quesadillas are usually fried, but you can also pop them in the oven if you're trying to watch your oil intake. Enjoy your yummy and healthy breakfast!

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Written By:

Claudia Montez is a content specialist with over four years of experience, currently working with MealFan. Her background in marketing and her experiences raising a family have given her insight into a wide variety of subjects. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, art, music, and the beach.

Reviewed By:

Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed , a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at . 

Photo by Cleanlight Photo on Unsplash

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