Every Breath Counts is a coalition of United Nations and multilateral health and development agencies, companies, foundations, non-government organizations (NGOs), and academic institutions supporting low- and middle-income countries to reduce deaths from pneumonia, including from COVID-19.

29 March 2021

Honorable Ministers,

There is no official count yet of the number of COVID-19 patients who have died because they could not get oxygen, but recent evidence suggests that number will be high. For more than 12 months now, there have been constant reports of oxygen-related COVID-19 deaths across Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

... clinical care options for COVID-19 patients are currently very limited, with oxygen and steroids such as dexamethasone the only proven lifesaving treatments for seriously ill patients. The oxygen needs of COVID-19 patients are extremely high, sometimes 10 to 20 times higher than for other patients, and this has caused an exponential increase in the demand for oxygen over the past year.

With the daily oxygen need across all low- and middle-income countries estimated at 11,800,000 cubic meters per day, or 1,700,000 large cylinders,1 many health facilities are overwhelmed and running out of oxygen as the families of patients often wait for days and pay exorbitant prices for scarce oxygen supplies while their loved ones suffer.