Vinay Pasricha (centre) and friends at the Dost Covid care centre in Sector 34, Noida; Photo by Yasir Iqbal

In mid-April, Vinay Pasricha received a call from a friend’s wife who was desperate to find oxygen for her hospitalised husband. Pasricha, an alumni of Harvard Business School, spent the night finding oxygen for his friend which eventually saved his life. “Till that moment, I didn’t think such a thing was possibleto be in hospital and have no life-saving oxygen,” he says. He started ‘Dost’ with 30 friends to provide medical resources to Covid patients in the Delhi-NCR area. “Instead of giving people numbers, we do the work for them. If someone needs a nebuliser, a medicine or oxygen, we get it to them,” he says. Over the last few weeks, Pasricha has himself transported several patients to Covid wards, putting at risk his own health. “I realised that most people will make calls but very few will go out into the field themselves—to deliver something or transport someone in distress,” he says.

In May, the group decided that they would add capacity to the medical infrastructure in Noida. After collecting funds from friends and acquaintances abroad, Dost tied up with the RWA of Sector 34 to open a Covid care centre complete with 20 oxygen-supported beds. “It is for people who need oxygen therapy but not ventilators. We have nurses and a doctor who comes twice a day,” says Pasricha. The group has saved around 85 people in the last five weeks. “But we also lost a 100 people because hospitals wouldn’t admit them. There is a lot more to be done to help the community survive this crisis,” he says. Dost is looking to start Covid relief vans soon which will carry oxygen and basic medicines to those in need. “Over the last few weeks, I have witnessed so many heroic acts of selfless service. I have seen strangers sharing their last oxygen cylinder with someone in need, people ferrying strangers to hospitals knowing fully well they can get infected. I have seen ICU beds being shared, people spending their last penny to save others. We are such a caring, helpful and giving society, it is unbelievable. And it is this that will get us through the pandemic.”

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