Tunisia and Algeria grapple with oxygen shortages, coronavirus surges

Lina B.

Date published: Thu, 19 August 21

In Algeria and Tunisia, oxygen shortages threaten the lives of COVID-19 patients, causing several deaths. The Delta variant has caused 71% of total infections for July, according to a state research center. 

Private hospitals and clinics are under immense pressure and demand for oxygen, oxygen beds, and other supplies. A shortage of liquid oxygen has led to the deaths of several individuals, and threatens many more. 

According to the Africa CDC, 29 countries are experiencing an aggressive third wave, and countries in North Africa, especially Algeria and Tunisia, are seeing a fourth wave. With this discord, traders have seized an opportunity to profit – buying supplies of oxygen and other supplies, and then selling them for higher prices. Many citizens are calling on the governments to intervene and stop this growing market as oxygen doubles in demand. 

Tunisia has reported more deaths per capita than any other African country and has had the highest daily death rate per capita in the world in the recent months.Over 20,000 Tunisians have died from coronavirus so far. Global vaccine apartheid further makes it difficult for countries in the Global South to access vaccines. Before the pandemic, Tunisia consumed between 25,000 and 30,000 liters of oxygen every day; now, it consumes 10x that amount, between 230,000 and 240,000 liters of oxygen a day, while production capacity is at 100,000 liters a day.

In Algeria, wildfires are destroying forested mountains while coronavirus spreads all over the nation. Over 65 people have been killed from the wildfires, and many more injured. Wildfires also cause respiratory damage, which, when paired with COVID-19’s targeting of the respiratory system, is utterly damaging and harmful in the long-term.

To help Tunisia and Algeria, contact your local representatives and ask them to implement policies of global vaccine equity.