What is happening in India? Good question, it is an ongoing issue that has escalated so much that I am sure that as I type something new is developing and by the time this gets published, a couple of developments will have occurred.
India has been in a global view for some time now, there was the Indian occupation in Kashmir, the violence during the farmers protest and currently the massive second wave of COVID-19. India has suffered a devastating second-wave which has now reached 23 million, a number only surpassed by the US with 32.5 million cases, and has seen the daily confirmed cases more than triple (it went from over 65,000 cases per day in April 1 to 372,000 as of May 12). The difference is that while the US has vaccinated over 58% of its adults (as of May 13) and 44% of its total population while India has only completed 9.4% of its total population. A reason for this discrepancy is the fact that India is the second populous nation in the world with more than a billion people. But that fact makes this case more serious in terms of what it means to the country and the world so a better question than “what is happening in India?” is why is this happening in India?
Lack of Preparation and Variants
The second wave has been blamed by many on the government placing no restrictions on public gatherings during the elections, which involved mass public gatherings for rallies and Hindu festivities. Even today, the federal government has not declared a lockdown. This has led to the spread of variants of COVID-19, such as the “Indian variant” which experts have labelled to be more infectious and even “evade” antibodies. There is also the “black fungus” infection found in some patients in India which doctors claim the symptoms can not just “maim” and “kill”, but could also lead to patients losing their jawline and eyes.
India’s health sector has been struggling to keep up with the second wave of the virus with key amenities such as beds, tests and oxygen, which is important in fighting respiratory diseases like COVID-19. The case of oxygen has gotten so bad that complaints have reached the Supreme Court of India, who have in turn questioned the federal government, set up a task force to ensure that the federal government is supplying states with oxygen and even threatening to punish them. This problem has no doubt been fatal as over 250,000 deaths have been recorded, with experts claiming that both the confirmed cases and deaths are an underrepresentation of the real data.
The Vaccination Dilemma
Mass vaccinations seem to be the best chance for India due to the high amount of cases, it is working for countries like the US who previously had severe numbers. India has a luxury that a lot of countries do not have; they produce vaccines (70 million a month), but this has not helped as there is a clear vaccine shortage in the country. The government had previously prioritized exporting vaccines and started pushing for mass vaccinations in January before the second wave began, averaging around 3 million vaccines a day in early April. Ironically, as the cases have gone up, the vaccinations have gone as low as 1.3 million doses per day (as of May 9), a slow rate when one considers that India has more than 1 billion inhabitants. The fact that the vaccines are not free in a country facing the loss of 7 million jobs in April alone.
Right now things are not looking good in India as the cases continue to rise astronomically, but that could change as countries like the US, Canada and Russia have pledged to share some vaccines to help out. This could be helpful in the long run but at the moment there are measures the federal government can take to contain the virus in the meantime, ramp up vaccinations, make the vaccines free and declare a lockdown.