COVID-19: Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges world to step up and help India

Greta Thunberg is urging the global community to step up and help India with its worsening COVID-19 situation. 

The 18-year-old Swedish climate activist spoke out about the "heartbreaking" effects the virus has had on Twitter.

"Heartbreaking to follow the recent developments in India," she wrote on Sunday.

"The global community must step up and immediately offer the assistance needed." 

Social media users thanked Thunberg for raising awareness. 

"Good Greta! The only time celebs back home start reacting to a situation is when someone external tweets about it," a user from India said. 

"Thanks, Greta for being with us in this critical hour."

India is in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic, hitting a rate of one COVID-19 death in just under every four minutes in Delhi as the capital's underfunded health system buckles.

Hospitals are overwhelmed and without sufficient oxygen supply as people die in the street waiting to access treatment. 

The number of cases across the country of around 1.3 billion people rose by 346,786 on Saturday reaching a  total of 16.6 million cases. So far 190,000 people have died from the virus. 

Thunberg has also joined Amnesty International in demanding fair and equal access to COVID-19 vaccinations. 

"It is completely unethical that high-income countries are now vaccinating young and healthy people if that happens at the expense of people in risk groups and on the frontlines in low and middle-income countries," Thunberg said in a video posted to Twitter. 

She said on average one in four people from high-income countries have received a COVID-19 vaccine compared to one in 500 in low and middle-income countries. 

"The international community, governments and vaccine developers must step up their game and address the tragedy that is vaccine enquiry." 

Thunberg is known for inspiring the School Strike 4 Climate movement where school students skip classes to protest for action against climate change. The movement began in 2019.

Two weeks ago it returned to New Zealand after a year-and-a-half's absence due to COVID-19.

About 1000 protesters turned out in Auckland, hundreds in Christchurch and about 5000 in Wellington, gathering outside Parliament despite rain.