COVID in India
The South-Asain country has been hit by the most devistating wave of cases the world has seen. How will it react?
8th May 2021 12:00 BST
Few predicited the current state of Inida, especially considering their early successes in the fight agains COVID. Just three months ago India was exiting the firstw wave of the virus. There were losses and casulties of course, but schools were reopneing and social distancing was being eased. The government were optimistic and proud, having handled the pandemic well, given the size and densit of their population in the main cities. In Februaury, the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party were hailing Mr Modi as a man who had defeated COVID.
This was the beginning of the end for the BJP. Fueled by their successes, the party turned focus to the upcoming state elections and, crucialy, away from the pandemic. They shot from under 13,000 new cases a day in March, less than both Germany and France, to regularly clocking in over 300,000 positive tests per day. India is showing the world the exponential powers of disease, and how it can ravenge through cities if left unchecked.
The cases graph is a near vertical line, reflecting the necessity of social distancing and lockdowns that have been put in place by most of the world. This is only positive tests too. In the rural areas there is a real lack of tests, and therefore missed cases.
But its not just cases that have been ramping up but deaths too. The issue India are currently facing is that cases per people and deaths per case are linked. With more cases there are more deaths of course but with more cases comes more hospital admissions, and less space for the masses of others with positive tests. It is spiralling our of control.
The sheer number of cases and therefore hospital admissions is keeping people out of hospitals and on the streets, where they are not only more likely to die, but are more likely to infect others. Shortages of staff, beds, blood, oxygen and even the canisters to hold the oxygen are common. The country is receiving some foreign aid, but the situation is far from resolved. There is a sense of panic everywhere.
The vaccination drive is failing too. The homemade vaccines Mr. Modi was flaunting in the early stages of production have failed. The government ordered too little too late and has underfunded local suppliers. They rejected foreign vaccines in a bid to show their superiority, a move that has been heavily critised. All this means that just 2.5% of Indians have had a full double doses, and just 13.4% have had at least 1. That puts them below the global average, as well as being below the first dose average in Europe, North America and South America.
The Serum Institute of India is now failing commitments made to Britain, the EU and COVAX on delivering the AstraZeneca jabs which are manufactured there. By mid February, Mr Modi’s government had ordered enough vaccines for just 3% of the population. They are now looking to COVAX to supply them with more, after plans to be one of the main suppliers of vaccines.
Whilst large getherings for religious reasons have been on the news as shocking evidence of a lack of respect for social distancing from the Indian people, it is no doubt down to the short comings of the government that the country is in such a predicament. Mr Modi’s BJP only began to cancel events surrounding the state election after the rival parties did the same, and he himslef personally promoted the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage. His government is now swalling national pride and fast-tracking approvals of foreign vaccines, as well as steering as mcuh oxygen as they can away from the airforce and toward hospitals, it may be too late for the BJP. They are polling incredibly low, and it seems that in their bid to win an election, they have forgotten to focus on what really wins the elections.