*Trigger Warning: Covid Deaths*
A 3-year-old kid lost his mother to COVID-19. The child wanted to hug his mom one last time. He couldn’t. Then there’s a 50-year-old couple praying for their 22-year son’s falling pulse rates to improve. They know prayer won’t help, but that is their last hope to save their only son.
Unfortunately, the actual condition on the ground is much worse than what these indicate. And hate me for saying this, but the situation will worsen in the coming days. If what we are witnessing now is hard, what we have in store is horrible before things turn better.
As we see, disease, death and desperation everywhere, two questions need to be asked:
First, how shall we get out of this? Unfortunately, there is no magic wand. More rapid vaccination, increasing crucial drugs, medical oxygen availability, importing critical drugs, bringing in more private sectors, leveraging Telemedicine, asking for foreign aid, containment measures to slow down spread — all these would collectively help reduce at least the worst consequences of the pandemic.
Also, we need collective efforts across nations, races, class to fight the danger. Again, as it is easier said than done, it is a humongous task.
The second question, perhaps more important and more relevant than the first one, how did we arrive at this situation? Where did we miss the bus in the fight against COVID-19?
Covid-19 has become sufficiently older for us to do proactive planning. The gap after the first wave, development of vaccines, idea on possible medications to treat, the mode of spread, the experience of other countries like Brazil — all were there, bare in front of our eyes, giving us ample time to plan, prepare and fight the pandemic in its second outing.
Health experts and scientists were giving warnings of the emergence of a second wave. A parliament panel warned about oxygen shortage almost a year ago. But it never figured into calculations of the ruling class.
Election rallies continued haphazardly; Kumbh was given the go-ahead (held after a gap of 11 years, instead of 12 years as traditionally done, for reasons you can guess), containment measures were totally ignored, which naturally took the need for precautions out of public consciousness. Even those who were taking precautions earlier started neglecting.
More importantly, considering the ill-equipped capacity of the nation’s poor health infrastructure, the only way we could have avoided the crisis turning into catastrophe was rapid vaccination and procuring critical drugs and other medical equipment in advance. While the U.S., EU were finalising deals for vaccine procurement in advance, the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world fell awfully short of vaccines.
While countries were tightening their seatbelts for the upcoming second wave, what were we doing?
We were prematurely hailing our leader for victory against the pandemic, branding those raising questions as anti-nationals. We were so engrossed in propaganda that we forgot to rate the government on performance. We preferred to believe WhatsApp forwards over authentic data and chose to blindly trust a single leader over processes of democracy.
The result? In just 2 weeks, the world’s largest democracy and enormous bureaucracy (ostensibly called the steel frame of the nation) crumbled, collapsed and became clueless in the battle against the pandemic. We are pushed into a spiral hole with disease, death, desperation and no way to turn back. We are witnessing a man-made disaster.
The tragedy we are witnessing is nothing but a classic case of unresponsive institutions, insensitive rulers and misguided public. There is no better recipe for disaster than this. If you have a doubt, pick up any history book.
Fortunately, like all disasters, this too shall pass. But unfortunately, like in all disasters, many of us will not make it to the end. We can’t bring the lives back. But surely, we can a take lesson from this: lesson to hold our leaders accountable, to not blindly worship leaders, to choose not a “strong” but a sensitive leader, to question those in authority. That is the only silver lining we can hope from this tragedy.
Coming back to our second question on where we missed the bus in the fight against COVID-19: we did not miss the bus; we were never looking for it in the first place.