India reported a record daily(17/04) increase of 2,34,692 Covid-19 infections over the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Saturday. It was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days. Total cases reached nearly 14.5 million, second only to the United States which has reported more than 32 million infections. Almost 10% of total cases were reported in India alone. It surpassed the daily average cases reported in the first wave between June,2020 to January,2021. But the question is how did it reach to such deadly devastating stage despite the PM modi has claimed to have launched the world’s largest vaccination drive?
Businesses, functions, rituals everything was open partially when India relaxed the lockdown conditions in June. And soon after, everything began to pace up to recover the losses that occurred during the lockdown period. At this point of the stage, the cases began to rise steadily as you see in the below graph. At some period in September, India reached its peak stage with daily average cases of 92,000. It took some 3 months to reach its peak stage during the first wave. The cases seem to be decreasing gradually and come to less than 10,000 in the initial weeks of February. It is assumed that the cases were decreasing due to the commencement of vaccination that was launched on 16th January 2021. The first group includes healthcare and frontline workers.
Meanwhile, all the business were functioning at normal levels, crowds began to congregate, educational institutions were reopened, cross border travel was picking up. Everything seems to be going well. But something unexpected was already happening without being noticed. All of sudden the cases started to rise at the end of February. The average daily cases started to rise to more than 15,000. In no time, in less than 45 days India reported more than double the average daily cases reported during the first wave. The cases were doubled, fatalities were severe, no beds, no ventilators, no ICUs and shortage of medical oxygen. What’s noteworthy is that the period that led to the steep increase in daily average cases. Ironically, India, the net exporter of vaccine now became net imported of the vaccine. This is a concern not only to India but to the entire world.
Nonetheless, the experts point out some key loopholes that led to a steep increase in cases.
Firstly, covid 19 protocols. No one followed the protocols like social distancing, wearing the mask, hand wash. Huge crowds are seen with no social distancing norms or at least wearing a mask. The efficacy of the vaccine is still debatable. There were many instances reported that despite, vaccination the persons contacted the virus. The recovering of businesses, reopening of institutions, offices etc largely obileised the people from one place to another place. The flouted covid19 norms caused to spread of the virus in public gatherings.
Secondly, the slow pace of vaccination in India. As of 14th April, only 1.1% of the population was fully vaccinated. If it continues at the snail step, it would take years to vaccinate the minimum population required to achieve herd immunity or to contain the spread of the virus. Also, there’s a shortage of vaccines in India. Now, the Indian govt. is looking for countries to import the vaccines. Further, the Indian govt. was severely criticised by its opposition parties as to why export 6 crore vaccines to some 70 countries despite it administered less than 4 crores to its population. The Serum Institute of India has written to the President of the U.S to lift the ban on the export of raw materials required to manufacture the vaccines.
Thirdly, The assembly elections in India and the ongoing Kumbh Mela. On 9th, March the Election Commission of India notified the general election to 6 states. All the major political parties are busy in public rallies and roadshows to promote their parties. However, no covid 19 protocols were followed. Neither, the politicians nor ECI have seemed to follow or implement any covid protocols. Such mass gathering of humans leads to severe spread and surge of covid 19.
Also, the Kumbh Mela 2021, has become the hotspot of covid19. An expected, more than a million people have taken the holy dip. All the people who gathered here are from different parts of the country and they have the potential to carry out the virus to their respective regions. This could have also lead to the spread of covid 19. The govt. seems to be very reluctant in halting the Kumbh Mela. The virus can spread easily in such mass gatherings. Following covid 19 protocols and monitoring becomes much difficult.
And lastly, some experts point out that a new covid19 variant could have merged. This might be causing deadly fatalities and super spreading the virus. In northern and western India the covid situation has worsened. There was a severe shortage of vaccines, medical oxygen, beds, ventilators etc. Even the graveyards and mortuaries were busy and keep awaiting the bodies. Some disturbing images and videos were emerging that shows the pathetic situation of both patients & hospitals and dead bodies in crematories. Despite all this Indian govt. has not taken any notable step to either halt Kumbh Mela and political rallies in election states.