Tsunami of Covid Second Wave

Written By: / Articles / Wednesday, 28 April 2021 18:42

Most hospitals are full. In some cases, two patients share a bed. Stocks of Oxygen, medicines and vaccines are all running out. Doctors and nurses are overworked. Thousands of patients are dying every day, leaving bodies’ pile-up outsides crematorium and graveyards. There’s panic in the air as Coronaviruses cases multiply across India at the most fearsome rate since the pandemic struck more than a year ago. India’s second wave really started gaining stem this month, with the daily count of new infections repeatedly setting new records throughout April. The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in India now stands at over 15 million. More than 1.5 million of those infections have been reported in the last seven days alone. The daily average is now about 220,000 new cases- the fastest rate of Covid-19 spread in the World.
The second wave started in mid –March and was underestimated on many levels. Many Indians had lowered their guard and stopped taking precautions, including wearing mask and maintaining social distancing; the government took several missteps including allowing massive election campaign events and huge religious gathering; even many experts predicted the second wave wouldn’t be as bad as the first. Over the winter, as many as countries struggled with third waves of infections, the number in India was coming down. Some experts suggested India might not even see a second wave. But it hit, and as of right now government data show it to be about three-times worse than the first wave. With the pace of new infection still climbing, there’s no indication yet that the top of this wave has even been reached. Many doctors are calling this second wave a tsunami and it’s stretching India’s already- lean healthcare infrastructure beyond its limits. Coronaviruses patients often can’t even find space to be admitted to a hospital. There simply aren’t enough beds. There were no stretchers or wheelchair. Mumbai, home to Bollywood, is India’s richest city but its healthcare system is straining as new cases mushroom. Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, is India’s hardest-hit state with 35% of the country’s total active cases. The entire state has been put under lockdown until the end of April, with restrictions expected to get even stricture this week. Some public health care experts suspect a new Indian-origin “double mutant” coronavirus variant- called B.1.617- is behind the rapid spread of the disease in India. But it’s not sure at this stage; more analysis is needed, as per experts. It’s affecting a lot of young people and children too and the symptoms are different from what it was in last year, said by the experts. According to them, the double mutants, which like other variants that have emerged around the world is suspected to be more infectious than the original strain of the disease, has now been discovered in at least 10 countries including U.S and the U.K.
At least 11 of India’s 29 states, including Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, have notified the national government of shortage of hospital bed, medical oxygen and key drugs used to treat Covid-19, seeking immediate help.The federal government insists there are sufficient oxygen supplies, but it has ordered the construction of 162 new medical oxygen manufacturing plants across the country. Indian media reports have said the government may be looking to import 50,000 metric tons of life-saving gas. Indian social media channels are filled with frantic appeals by people for help getting loved ones into hospitals and for oxygen cylinders, plasma donations and the drug remdesivir. The medicine, shown to help people recover from Covid-19 started hitting the black market in India last year. A doctor told that the situation was “chaos allover”. Anybody will tell you, there is a shortage of beds, oxygen and drugs. A doctor who specializes in trauma and emergency medicine said most of his colleagues are overworked; some are not getting rest or even time to eat properly. If this is the situation in India’s biggest and the richest cities, you can imagine what would be happening in rural areas where there aren’t even enough hospitals. Last week, video emerged of Covid-19 victims’ bodies lined up outside a government run hospital in Chhattisgarh, highlighting the scale of the crisis in smaller states. Crematoriums and buried grounds in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi are also overworked with long queues of ambulances, waiting their turn to deliver victim for funeral. More than 178,000 people have died in India of the coronavirus. Another 1,619 death were registered on Monday alone. Many of those dying are people who simply find it impossible to access treatment in time.
India is running short of vaccine too. Several states have told the federal government, they’re down to limited stocks. India has administered more than 127 million doses of the two corona vaccines currently being used: Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being produced domestically by Serum Institute of India under the name of Covishield; and Covaxine, India’s homegrown vaccine produced by Bharat Biotech. But only 14.3 million people have been fully vaccinated, which is just a little over 1% of the country’s 1.32 billion population. The government aims to have 250 million people vaccinated by the end of July and from May 1; all adults will technically be eligible for a shot. Experts warn however that at the current rate of vaccination, India will fall short of its goal. The government has approved the use of Russian’s Sputnik V vaccine and opened doors to other major vaccines being administered around the world, including Moderna and Pfizer, but there are no suppliers available yet. Domestic shortages have also led to a severe strain on India’s promised deliveries to the global COVAX initiative. The effort backed by the U.N’s World Health Organization was launched to ensure poor and developing nations to get their fair share of Covid-19 vaccine, but as India diverts stocks made by Serum Institute (SII) for domestic use , about 64 lower-income nations have been left waiting for their deliveries.
Delays in securing supplies of SII-produced Covid-19 vaccine doses are due to the increased demand for Covid-19 vaccines in India, the WHO said in a statement last month; COVAX has notified all affected economies of potential delays, it said. The Indian company is the world’s largest maker of all vaccine and it has delivered more than 100 million doses to India and 60 million to other countries. The Serum Institute has also requested a grant from India government worth around 400 million USD to boost production of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some of the hardest-hit states and cities are increasing restrictions to try to curve the spread of the virus including new or expanded lockdown in Delhi and Maharashtra but even if vaccine production can ramp-up , many epidemiologists believe the number of cases will keep rising for about a month before the curve starts to dip. In the worst case scenario, it may even take two months. How far the current wave goes really depends on individual Covid-compliance and restrictions of mass gathering. Until then we are in for a tough phase and it is difficult to predict how long the current situation will continue, according to health experts.

About the Author

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at JCRE Global College. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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