India is officially in the second wave of Covid-19, a wave that threatens to be way more damaging than the first one. We have just crossed a morbid line of more than 300,000 cases in one day.
A new triple mutant Covid strain has just been discovered. But the shocking thing is not the number of cases or the deadly variants. It is the outrageous negligence of our leaders cutting across party lines that lead to this second wave that was entirely preventable.
The sheer stupidity and purely dumb behaviour and attitude that comes forward when we take a deeper look into the rising cases make it clear exactly how useless and selfishly power-hungry our political leaders are. The only major countries in my knowledge that have had a worse response to the Covid-19 pandemic than India are the United States (under Donald Trump) and Brazil (Jair Bolsonaro).
I’ll provide a point by point reference in this article as you read ahead.
See these pictures? Notice just how responsible our politicians are? It’s good to see them being such great role models, wearing masks, following social distancing and spending a whole lot of time fighting the pandemic. Really makes you feel optimistic and safe that our country is in good hands, doesn’t it?
AIIMS director has put the reason of the second wave on two things – the mutation of the virus and people not following social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. Maybe he can give a talk to the PM, HM, CMs and Party leaders like Rahul Gandhi first since they seem to enjoy being negative influences and role models. Maybe our doctors and scientists could also impart some thinking skills to the government in regards to Mahakumbh and to a lesser extent, Ramzan of Muslims and Odi of Jains.
As an atheist, I may be biased, but for all the devils, I cannot fathom why religious places and rituals are permitted to happen in a pandemic. I mean assuming Goddess even exists, would she really be glad that you’re accelerating the spread of a virus in her name? (Her doesn’t seem to fit quite as good as him does it? That’s patriarchy) Like this lady creates a universe, is omniscient and has superpowers and is all good and peace and kind and you think she appreciates you causing needless suffering for some ritual or worship of some piece of stone.
And forget religious places and small rituals, allowing the Mahakumbh to happen right in between the second wave when we have cases reaching almost 2 lakh every day? That is the definition of stupid. Remember the outrage against Muslims for ‘Corona Jihad’? I don’t seem to hear the same for Mahakumbh? (That’s Islamaphobia for you)
Four states and one Union Terrority have elections scheduled to be held in a pandemic. Social distancing and staying at home be damned with. In such an emergency, the constitution provides for delaying elections. Why then are we holding elections when it is sure to be a super spreader that may lengthen the second wave or make it even deadlier. Not only are elections being held, but it’s also like all our politicians and elected officials have completely forgotten about the raging pandemic we’re living with.
Massive rallies are being organised, with no social distancing or masks even among the politicians themselves. The Prime Minister and Home Minister are both trailing the election states prioritising their personal political fortune instead of trying to stop the second wave.
While we are breaching records on daily cases, have a huge shortage of beds, ventilators and other equipment, shortage of Remdesivir and a massive shortfall in vaccine production, the PM has derelicted and abandoned his duty as the leader of the government and country, preferring to give communally charged speeches in Bengal.
Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and other opposition leaders are also not too behind. The Covid-19 second wave has exposed the true priorities of all our politicians. And it’s not us, the masses.
Vaccination is probably the easiest way to end this pandemic permanently. (Not completely, there will still be cases but significantly decreased to non-pandemic levels) This means that vaccination of the entire population, starting with the most at risk, as speedily as possible is probably priority number one of the central government, right? Wrong.
Before actions, let us just take a look at the goals of the government, which is, vaccinating 300 million by July. If this is our ‘goal’, it means that 4 months later, we will still have an unvaccinated population of more than a billion people. And if this pace continues, or even increases, it will take a minimum of 6 to 10 months after July to achieve an estimated 70% vaccinated population.
Meaning, even if the government meets or surpasses its own goals, there’s plenty of time for not only the second wave but even a third or fourth wave to occur. And just to be clear, the government is not on track to even fulfil this goal. Now, you might claim that the government isn’t magical, and can’t do a lot about this but as I will explain below, we could have navigated the second one a whole lot better and avoided the massive spike.
Back to the goals, when our goals are only this small, how can we expect any future of ending the pandemic in India sooner than next year? When you’re aiming for the sky, how are you going to reach the moon in space?
One of the most foolishly dumb thing that the Modi government did was exporting the vaccine. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for helping other underdeveloped countries cope with Covid-19. But, as they say in airlines, first put on your mask and then help others do it.
Why then, knowing that we would need close to 2.5 billion vaccines (counting one person as 2 doses), did the government allow the export of nearly 60 million vaccines? A part of these went to the Covax efforts that were legally required in the deal SII struck with AstraZeneca, but the vast majority was exported commercially.
In March, India for some inconceivable reason had exported more vaccines than it had used at home. EA Minister Jaishankar has defended the export of vaccines by saying that we needed raw materials exports from other countries and if they blocked its sale like the US has done recently, our production might be affected. But this argument then further raises the question of why we are in this situation and why we waited until the second wave hitting to procure raw materials?
Why wait till all countries, burdened by the second, third and fourth waves seek vaccines and raw materials to produce them? There were few or no restrictions on raw materials previously. We could have built up a stock then. While we exported vaccines to other countries, now we ourselves face a shortage of them. We are now trying to import vaccines ironically. We were well placed to prevent a second wave of Covid considering that we are the number 1 producer of vaccines in the world, but now we are struggling to contain the wave due to the missteps and lack of planning of the government.
This article is part of a series of 3-4 articles revolving around India’s second wave of Covid 19. This is the 1st article in the series.
If you liked this article please upvote and share it. I’ll be writing the 2nd part which shall cover the issues of vaccine production, regulation and purchase missteps. Follow me by clicking on my profile to get updates on the later parts.