Corona Crises: Are we as a country failed or just the system

The bulge of the Covid-19 virus that came last week has now turned into a tsunami. After the April 13 count, our total active cases crossed 12 million.

Ankit Awasthi

Ankit AwasthiBy Ankit Awasthi

Published on 26 April 2021 10:26 AM GMT

Corona Crises: Are we as a country failed or just the system
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India has shown a tendency to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. Covid-19 shows the same way to deal with the epidemic. India had 8,500 new cases on February 1, the lowest since June 8, 2020. On April 13, they climbed to 180,000 new cases a day, the highest level since the start of the epidemic. Unfortunately, this is a feat that the country has been doing every day since April 6. The bulge of the Covid-19 virus that came last week has now turned into a tsunami. After the April 13 count, our total active cases crossed 12 million.

We mistakenly accepted the peace before the storm as passing by and became engrossed in everyday life- let alone religious gatherings and political rallies. That also reveals the double standards of our political strata. While infections skyrocketed and civilians were facing curfew in some parts of the country, there was no restriction on these huge deposits, and the rules of covid were barely followed. The same carelessness and negligence is now charging a heavy price. Every day, the wretched brings news, and India's screams grow manifold like viruses themselves. More worryingly, this wave that is sweeping all cities is infecting the population that seemed to be untouched in the first wave, i.e., people in the age of 15 to 44 years.

In a top hospital in Mumbai, the space around the lift had to be converted into a ward of patients. India's health infrastructure, which is hard-built in 68 days of the world's toughest lockdown, may soon collapse. India's economic capital Maharashtra has imposed a lockdown. Last year we saw that lockdowns can destroy the economy, but perhaps it's only a matter of time when this is the only option left to prevent the spread of the virus. India cannot afford this option. This will leave millions of people in a state of untold trouble

The solution is of course to vaccinate the large population faster. Vaccine is the only reliable way to slow down virus shock and reduce the risk of infection, serious illness and death. To reach herd immunity, India will have to vaccinate 75 per cent of the population or 990 million people. That is, we need 1.98 billion doses (for two doses of vaccine). At present 40 million people are getting vaccinated every day. We have to increase the immunization rate by 20 million daily and maintain regular supply of 600 million vaccines every month, while our current capacity is 8-10 crore per month. The work is difficult and the government has to be prepared. We don't have enough doses to increase vaccination, nor do we clear the way for the future. Don't understand why the world's largest vaccine producing country is in this condition. It's just as Saudi Arabia tells its people that it doesn't have oil for them.

India's leading pharma companies can make 3 billion doses of vaccine annually. Lack of vision, export promises, delayed orders, highly centralized methods and lack of incentives for manufacturing helped get only 110 million doses in three months.

The government placed 120 million more vaccine orders in the last week of March, two months after the vaccination program began. Despite all its cynicism of the epidemic, the Trump administration gave Pfizer $2 billion for 100 million doses and opted for another 500 million doses if the vaccine was successful. The U.S. has so many doses that its entire population can be vaccinated twice.

In the early stages of our vaccine campaign, 8-9 percent of vaccines were wasted in some states due to a severe lack of communication on overcoming vaccine hesitation, it was clear that infections would increase as soon as the economy resumed, as happened in many parts of the world, we know that we are probably the most less disciplined nations and are happy to break rules or dodge them, so just as every country reserves energy sources like oil or coal for emergencies, so when demand was low, we could have reserve stock of the vaccine. India's vaccine requires a bus refrigerator and the government could easily have a six-month reserve. Instead, we exported 60 million vaccines, while our own people were given only 70 million doses.

Our vaccine strategy is self-satisfied and fueled with too much government rules and regulations, with the lack of vaccine, India had to adopt a piece-by-piece strategy instead of opening the vaccination to all. There were also hurdles in not including the private sector in distribution. The PPP model which is coming in almost all the sector maybe can help to manage this situation and it can also be the litmus test for this model if government regulate it correctly. In December, 16 vaccines were in the run-up to clinical and pre-clinical trials, yet it taken four months for India's drug controller to revise the rules to speed up testing. In developed countries, many vaccines went through extensive tests and were approved by their drug controllers, which can be fast-tracked in India. The target of vaccinating 300 million people at the current pace of vaccination of 40 lakh people per day will be achieved by mid-July and 75 per cent of the population will take one and a half years to get vaccinated, by which time the safety period of the fully vaccinated people will be over, they will have to be vaccinated again, this shows that we'll have to take precautions and don't hesitate to wear mask, use sanitizer and try to live with the new normal, only then we can win this century's battle.

From April to October, the number of oxygen beds was claimed to have increased from 58,000 to 2.65 lakh and the number of ICU and ventilator beds was tripled. It was said that oxygen, large temporary hospitals, adequate testing capabilities, quarantine centres and covid support centres are ready. But once again in April the same long time in the investigation, the lack of beds, oxygen, medicine is more and more ugly and frightening than before!!

After Covid, nine new ventilator companies came into the market. Production capacity increased to 4 million ventilators but showed that demand preparation has all been lost. The industry got sick.

Health capabilities were built in India or everything was only on paper or the tents were uprooted like the Kumbh Mela?

It may be recalled that all countries of the world made the health structure local after Covid because of the threat

Lack of health capabilities was the biggest challenge at the time of covid's first wave. In April 2020, a package of Rs. 15,000 crores came. There were claims that a huge health structure has been created very fast, so where did all that go?

The shortage of health workers (a doctor on 1,400 people, 1.7 nurses per 1,000 people) was the biggest challenge, where it remained and a year later the entire system sat tired. By Last August, Dr. Reddy's, Cygene and Zayedus Cadila (seven producers in total), came to the market and the shortage of the major drug Remidisvir was over. In April, the black marketing of Fabiflu began. People started dying due to lack of injections.

The world's vaccine pharmacy was in a state of disorder as governments in other countries assessed the needs and secured the capabilities of medicine, vaccine for the country.

To prevent covid, there needs to be a strong and continuous mechanism to communicate between agencies, investigate infected and test contact tracing through them, but the Government became careless in the race to reduce investigations and show victory. It is illicit that despite nearly 1.7 million deaths, there could be no nationwide framework or mechanism for infection investigations, contact tracing and information exchange.

People yearning for medicine, oxygen, beds, queues at crematoria This face of the world guru, superpower, digital superpower or the world's oldest civilization is disturbing. If we are turning into a ruthless festive country where governments conduct grand Mahakumbh, General elections and IPL one after the other, but even in the midst of the epidemic, we need to be very worried if we are not able to get our people to hospitals, medicines, oxygen and even crematoria for the last journey peacefully.

India did not have a maximum population of more than two per cent (sick, healthy) in any time but after one year of corona crisis and spending money nothing changed.

Let's see what action plan will make the situation better, and if not better then not worse as the current situation.

Ankit Awasthi

Ankit Awasthi

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