'We're in a much better situation' claims India's Principal Scientific Advisor as COVID-19 claims more lives than ever before
- India’s Principal Scientific Advisor, K VijayRaghavan, claimed that India is in a better position than last year in its handling of the
- As of April 23, India reported 332,392 new cases of COVID-19 — setting a new record.
- There are also widespread reports of oxygen shortages, supply issues with treatment medication, and outrage against officials for their lack of prepareness.
But, according to K VijayRaghavan, principal scientific advisor to the Indian government, “We are much better equipped and in a much better situation where we can have livelihoods and live both safe,” he said in an interview to the Times of India ( TOI).
In districts across the country, official counts of COVID-19 related deaths are much lower than the number of victims being cremated. According to Times Now, there were 94 COVID-19 bodies being cremated in one crematorium in Bhopal but the state government only reported 3 deaths that day. India Today reported that Lucknow officials have erected a temporary tin wall around one of the biggest crematoriums in the city to keep videos of burning bodies from going viral.
The devastation due to the lack of preparation by the government has led citizens to take to the streets to express their angst. In Maharashtra’s Latur city, families of COVID-19 patients were seen protesting over oxygen shortage. In Nagpur, another city in Maharashtra — the worst-hit state in India — doctors were seen protesting against the shortage of medical supplies to treat COVID-19 patients.
India’s denial of the COVID-19 pandemic worsening
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit other nations before the numbers started to increase in India. But officials believed that the worst of the pandemic was over for India and were seen celebrating a premature victory on the global stage.
“The country, which comprises 18% of the world population, has saved the world from disaster by bringing the situation under control,” Prime Minister
Three months down the line, on April 23, India recorded 332,392 new COVID-19 cases — the highest ever for any country for a second day in a row.
India’s mass gatherings and election rallies as COVID-19 cases surged
Last year, it took 100 days for the number of COVID-19 cases to go from 10,000 per day to the first wave’s peak of 97,000 new cases per day. This time around we went from 10,000 per day to 100,000 per day in less than 50 days — and the number of new cases per day is still increasing.
In the build-up to the second wave of COVID-19, thousands were seen flocking to Kumbh Mela and politicians were busy hosting rallies across five states with elections around the corner. One of these states, West Bengal, is where a suspected triple mutant variant of COVID-19 has emerged.
In the US, the threat of hosting rallies was already highlighted when Trump was campaigning to be the President against Joe Biden for the 2020 election. According to a study by economists at the Stanford University, Trump’s rallies were linked to at least 30,000 cases of COVID-19 and “likely led to more than 700 deaths.”
The lack of preparedness for the uptick in COVID-19 cases
SOS - Less than an hour's Oxygen supplies at Max Smart Hospital & Max Hospital Saket. Awaiting promised fresh suppl… https://t.co/FvC6yNfGiW— Max Healthcare (@MaxHealthcare) 1619143992000
This is an #SOS call from Fortis to allow oxygen tanker from Bhiwadi to reach our hospital #ASAP. (2/2)— Fortis Healthcare (@fortis_hospital) 1619090193000
And it’s not just oxygen that’s short in supply. Medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 like Remdesivr, Favipiravir, Tocilizumab, and plasma are in short supply. Even with pharmaceutical companies ramping up production, much of the supply is being leaked into the black market and being sold for exorbitant prices.
Vaccines, too, have been in short supply with long queues outside hospitals and people being sent home after just being given a coupon, because the number of doses for a particular day has been exhausted.
To meet surging demand, the Indian government has set up emergency coronavirus hospitals in banquet halls, train stations, and hotels across the country. It has also taken emergency measures to secure oxygen supplies, boost the production of drugs and fast-track vaccine approvals — like Russia Sputnik V. It is expected date of its arrival has been delayed from the end of April to end of May, according to Reuters. India has also hit pause on the export of vaccines.
Most of these measures have come in over the past one month, when the cases of COVID-19 had already begun to surge.
And, that is why VijayRaghavan’s comments that India is ‘better equipped’ during the second wave may come as a shocker for many. Both patients and their kin, as well as the medical community that has been stretched to its limits, will beg to differ.
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