When first wave of coronavirus hit India and one of the most stringent lockdown was imposed, people with saving, financial security and those on whose shoulders only responsibility was to stay at home and follow covid-appropriate behavior (including me) were feeling excited and enjoying our time with family thinking that soon all of this will be over. Most of us even compared our current situation to movies like Brad Pitt’s ‘World war Z’ or Will Smith’s ‘I am Legend’. But now as second wave is at door step of India everybody is afraid.
Covid cases have registered a V-shaped resurgence. At last count, India had 1.75 times more daily cases now than previous peak, which was in September 2020.
What led to second wave? is the question which we need to answer now. Were lockdowns ineffective? Was it shortage of vaccine doses? Was it mismanagement of entire vaccination drive? Was it mutation in virus itself? or Should people be blamed for not following covid-appropriate behaviour? I think no one can wash their hand from this.
India has already started vaccinating its citizen with domestically manufactured vaccine i.e., covidshield and covaxin. Government decided to prioritized on the basis of at-high-risk-population factor, for example first all corona warriors (healthcare workers, policemen etc…) will get vaccinated then 60+ and from April onwards all above 45, which is a good decision as we have limited resources. As per estimate India indigenously can manufacture 70-80 million doses per month which is not enough for such a large population. Shortage of vaccine doses has hampered our vaccination drive, as we have seen Maharashtra where lack of availability of vaccine doses is one of the major reasons. But increasing production capacity can be difficult and capital intensive in short-run. Hence government’s decision to open up for foreign manufactured vaccines is a positive one.
Along with increase in supply, we need trained personnel on range of aspects like storage, handling, waste management etc… so that every vaccine dose can be used efficiently. We also need more vaccination center not only for vaccination but also to monitor after effect of vaccine.
Fear Among People
Although, India has one the highest number of cases but death rate is low in India compared to other nations. As people recovered from coronavirus without much difficult (except 14 days quarantine) or as several report claims ‘only those people are dying who already have some diseases’ or ‘new mutated virus is only spreading fast but is not fatal enough’, all of this led to fading of fear of coronavirus among people. This provided courage to people to violate covid-appropriate behaviour i.e., not maintaining social distancing, not wearing masks etc…
Even though people are not paying much heed to coronavirus still they are very much afraid. People are afraid of lockdowns, curfews as they have sore memories of first lockdown where every activity was halted at such a short notice. People lost their employment, many businesses did not survive, migrant labour had to walk long distances as transportation services were stopped, students suffered their studies, healthcare infrastructure collapsed which deprived people of even basic medical services etc… All these reasons make people afraid of 2nd wave of coronavirus.
Nobody can deny the fact that poor in particular landless, small landowners, migrant labours, old-poor people etc… are the ones who has been hit the hardest. They were the first to lose their employment or source of income, they do not have unemployment allowances, insurance or saving to fight the hardships of coronavirus, they can’t afford to take one day off if they are ill, their children don’t have access to studies and proper nutrition, health infrastructure has failed to provide them basic medical services etc… Life for them is worrisome and hard. This is a breach of their fundamental rights, for example Right to life which also includes Right to livelihood or Right to education.
Government has failed on several fronts but few needs to be appreciated, for example MGNREGA which provides employment in rural area to poor people or our public distribution system which provides wheat, rice, dal etc… at a very negligible price. Strange thing is that government has provided these services in pre-covid too.
Despite huge rise in coronavirus cases, government has directly or indirectly taken few decisions which make us conclude that government’s fear too has been faded away. Government has given go ahead to ‘Kumbh Mela’ (where hardly anyone is following covid guidelines) in the name of faith where as last year Tablighi Jamaat became controversial issue where many were even jailed for a month. Why this preferential treatment? Government even arranged trains for devotees, which is good in normal circumstances, but where did it go last year when lakhs of migrant labours were walking long distances and many died on the way.
Government can’t afford to take such decision if it really want welfare of its people and people too have to behave according to covid guidelines.
India is in much good position to deal with covid-19 compared to previous year. India is one of leading manufactures of vaccines, it is even helping other nations by sending vaccines. Healthcare system has become more robust and efficient. Corporates have developed infrastructure which enabled Work from Home (WFH) and has made supply chain more resilient, educational institution have shifted their classroom programs online, transaction are preferred cashless, delivery of goods and services is reaching doorsteps etc…
But government and people both can’t afford careless and avoidable bad decisions.