Even two years after the pandemic, politics not science inspiring panic -

Even two years after the pandemic, politics not science inspiring panic

Two years after the Prime Minister declared that a three-week harsh lockdown would beat the coronavirus and one year after he boasted that India had beaten the virus, there were still 500 million unvaccinated Indians this week.

Only 62 percent of Indians, according to official claims, had been fully vaccinated and less than one percent of the positive cases had been ‘genome sequenced’ to determine the variant. What is more, Indians continue to be fleeced by private players pushing all kinds of cures, including an exorbitantly priced Covid cocktail.

Governments, which were expected to ramp up health infrastructure and facilities, seem to be spending enormous amounts of public money in publicity and in setting up temporary facilities to cope with the anticipated rush of cases in the ‘third wave’. But the bottom line remains that even if one percent of a city’s population need to be tested and hospitalized, the health facilities would crumble.

But the virus seems to have been kind so far and Indians, thanks to overcrowded living conditions, seem to have developed immunity to the Delta variant. The Omicron variant is luckily confined to the upper respiratory tract and is not doing damage to organs like the lungs. However, we were short of doctors, nurses, technicians, paramedics, oxygen, ambulances and ventilators etc. at the beginning of the pandemic. Two years after the pandemic, the situation does not appear to be better.

What is even more unfortunate is that Governments seem to have failed even in areas where they need not have failed. Regulators and the health ministry were expected to communicate clearly about the risks, enforce uniformity in rates for tests, hospitalization etc. and ensure quality. They were expected to lay down standards of quality and communicate them clearly. Quality of masks, ventilators and vaccines needed to be fixed. But the distrust remains deep and people suspicious of what they hear from Governments, relying instead on the word-of-mouth and WhatsApp forwards. In these circumstances, it was not surprising to find the Union Health Secretary this week reassuring people that conditions are far worse in Europe and in New York.

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