Metro Atlantans are working together to help those in India as COVID-19 cases surge

ATLANTA — As India deals with record numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, members of the Metro Atlanta Indian community are mobilizing to help family and friends back home.

“I think it’s very sad that India, who was initially in the forefront, helping all the other countries, and now we’re seeing this tragic turn,” said Khushboo Karia of Lawrenceville to Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik. “I’m even scared to call anybody because I just don’t want to hear some sad news.”

Karia said everyone she knows has family or friends touched negatively by the virus, which her country had under control at one point.

“Then people started getting out normally, as if COVID, almost was gone,” she said. “I think, as a result, has led this variant to kind of flourish, the way it has flourished.”

Siva Nadarajah, With U.S. and India-based healthcare company Jogo Health, told Petchenik part of the problem is that India is not vaccinating its citizens quickly enough.

“I think it’s the production is one of the major things, and distribution,” he said.

Nadajarah said only 2% of the Indian population has been vaccinated, and even though India is one of the largest exporters of vaccine in the world, most of its supplies have gone to other countries, including South Africa.


“I guess the solution is going to be other countries which have production capacity jumping into produce the Indian vaccine, or any vaccine for that matter,” he said.

In Atlanta, Hindu faith-based organization Sewa International is working with other U.S. Chapters to procure and send supplies such as personal protective equipment and oxygen concentrators back to India.

“It is a humanitarian crisis,” said Srikanth Gundavarapu, of Marietta. “Every family that (is) Indian is here is affected over there. Personally, a cousin, a first cousin of mine, she passed away a week ago. My mother-in-law and father-in-law, they were hospitalized.”

Gundavarapu says the U.S. needs to send more supplies and surplus vaccines to India as soon as possible.

“When a country with 20% of the population hurts, it hurts everybody,” he said. “We see that, and if American government could call on the Defense Production Act … to produce more vaccines and vaccine materials, and because if India gets sick, the countries around that one is going to get sicker as well. It’s a matter of time.”