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The terrible second wave in India

The terrible second wave in India

Between February and March it started in India A major new wave of infections From the Corona virus, which has reached extremely alarming levels: last week and for seven consecutive days, more than 200,000 new cases were recorded every day, and on Wednesday, April 21, 300,000 infections were exceeded for the first time. It is the second wave to hit the country, after the one that occurred between June and September of 2020: in this case, the daily injuries did not exceed 100 thousand.

The new wave only arrived when India in February reached a massive drop in infections, which has people talking about it as well Herd immunity.

According to various analyzes, what happened between February and April can be explained above all by a set of political decisions considered late or ineffective, at the national and local levels, and on the basis of greatly minimizing the risks. A new type of virus has also contributed to the current emergency, the so-called “Indian variant” (B.1.617), which appears to have made the coronavirus more contagious, but there are still ongoing studies on it.

current situation
The new wave is creating serious problems for the entire Indian health system: In some cities, intensive care facilities are running out and the oxygen available to patients is running out. The central government has tried to avoid a general lockdown in order not to damage the economy too much, but many states are resorting to intermediary measures, such as banning gatherings and curfews.

Among the areas with high infections is Delhi, the region that includes the Indian capital, New Delhi, where more than 16 million people live, as a week-long lockdown was imposed on Monday. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday Wire From the miserable situation of local hospitals, believing that the oxygen supply will remain sufficient for only a few hours, and asking for help from the central government. To meet the growing demand for hospitalization, the state authorities have established emergency hospitals for the Coronavirus in concert halls, train stations and hotels.

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Besides the increase in infections in the past two months, deaths due to infection with the Coronavirus have also increased across the country: In the past few days, about two thousand people have been registered per day, for a total of more than 182,000 deaths since the beginning of the epidemic, but the number is certainly much higher than Official number. The data provided by Indian states on daily deaths comes from crematoria, which, however, are unable to cremate all bodies: they are overcrowded in many cities, and crematoriums have been erected improvisedly in open spaces.

The second wave also had repercussions for India’s vaccination plan: Since the end of March, the government has halted exports of vaccines, which it largely produces. Serum Institute It primarily targets the poorest countries, to privilege the Indian population of vaccine: but at present, only 8 percent of the population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and only 1.3 percent have received the second dose.

Funeral cremations held in New Delhi (Anindito Mukherjee / Getty Images)

Whose fault it is
In the beginning of February, India appeared to be one of the best countries to respond to the epidemic, managing to contain the infection and avoid a new wave. Daily cases were just over 10,000, which is a very low figure in a country of over a billion people. Many even questioned whether improvement was one of the first indicators of achieving so-called “community immunity” (or “herd immunity”), the condition in which most individuals have developed an immune response against a virus (or other pathogen) that has spread. A lot among the population.

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However, what appeared to be a success quickly turned into a disaster: Already in the first weeks of February, infections began to rise rapidly, finally reaching the massive numbers in the past few days. How it was possible to move from the optimal situation to the current one is what experts and analysts are asking for themselves, to understand what went wrong in the Indian system.

According to many, the blame would primarily be placed on the Indian government, which would have proven completely unprepared for the arrival of the second wave. In particular, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of wanting to de-escalate the infection, to quickly reopen it and its popularity.

For example, Modi has continued to organize political rallies with thousands of participants in light of the local elections held between late March and early April in five states, and has allowed for the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu religious festival that brings together millions of people. From across the country: Modi is the leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the decision to allow the Kumbh Mela ceremonies was made specifically so as not to lose consensus among the Hindu people, who are in the majority. in India.

This year the festival was celebrated in Haridwar, in the northern state of Uttarakhand, where hundreds of thousands of people bathed between 12 and 14 April in the Ganges River. And many of those who arrived, it became clear during the searches carried out by the authorities, She was positive for Coronavirus.

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On Tuesday, in a speech to the nation, Modi He wanted to be reassured Residents say the government is doing its utmost to cope with the second wave of infections, which they have likened to a “storm”: “The country is currently fighting a major battle against Covid-19. The situation improved for some time, but the second wave came as a storm. The battle is long and difficult, but we must face it together with dedication and courage. ”

According to others, the mistake is not only on the part of the current government, but it is found in the history of the Indian health system. According to Vinita Pal, a scientist at the Indian National Institute of Immunology, the problems will drown in years of neglect of health infrastructures: “The problem is not just the current government, but the management of the health system that has been undertaken by all governments of the past 50 years. It is not something that is resolved in a year. Come crunch.It has been steady for many years Financial times.

In addition to political neglect, another factor may have contributed to making this second wave more difficult to counteract. Last October, a type of Coronavirus B.1.617 was identified in India, which has also spread to the United Kingdom and the United States, and which according to scientists, could make the virus more contagious and more resistant to vaccines. However, studies on the variant are still ongoing, and it is not known for certain how prevalent it is, as in Brazil and South Africa, and whether or not it actually caused the increase in infections in the past two months in India.