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India and COVID-19

As you might be aware, the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has been raging across India, with test positivity rising exponentially as well as the death toll. While funeral pyres burn incessantly owing to mass cremations and cemeteries register higher than usual intakes, the state and central governments are being seen increasingly as having abandoned the country to its own devices. Early warnings of a massive second wave were summarily ignored even as mass gatherings and super-spreader events were allowed to go ahead without adherence to Covid protocols. From 12,286 positive cases on 1 March 2021, India today is reeling under a disastrous spike – 329,942 cases as on 10 May 2021. By a number of estimates and according to anecdotal data, the numbers are infinitely higher. Around 91 deaths were reported on 1 March 2021 which has now recorded a massive upswing to 3,876, as on 10 May 2021 (CSSE, Johns Hopkins University).

Adding to the misery of millions of Indians is the callous attitude of the central government, BJP with regard to distribution of oxygen supply throughout the country. Every day brings worse news of Covid patients succumbing to oxygen shortages in leading hospitals. Besides oxygen, Indians are facing a calamitous shortage of retroviral medication (and hospital beds) while shameful accounts of black marketing of critical medicines like Remdesivir have surfaced. According to the Indian Medical Association, 747 doctors have died of Covid- 19 in India since the pandemic began. Needless to say, India is presently facing its worst medical emergency and an effectively absent government is adding to the disaster.

Many critics point out the lack of planning by the incumbent prime minister, Narendra Modi who, along with his government was ignoring protocol, and allowed massive religious events to take place such as the kumbh mela that turned out to be a Covid Super Spreader. The government was also accused to have continued rallying for state elections instead of paying attention to the depleting oxygen resources.

We stand in solidarity with our friends in India and wish them safety.

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