1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct

India will soon go past Spain, France and Italy. Where did India fail? And are we still making those mistakes?

Updated
News Videos
5 min read

Video Producer: Shohini Bose

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

Cameraperson: Abhishek Ranjan

Yeh Jo India Hai Na… It now has 11 lakh COVID-19 cases. We took a look at the period between 15 June and 20 July:

1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)
1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)
1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)

None of these cities really have been able to contain the growth of cases. The hospitals and the administration are all overwhelmed.

And here are some states:

1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)
1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)
1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)
1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)

Across India too:

1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)

Click on he player below for the podcast.

India’s healthcare system is completely swamped by this flood of cases, which is just not slowing down.

The Quint will be in almost 100% work-from-home mode for the next 1 year. Why’s that? Main reason – India has NOT yet flattened the curve. Despite one of the world’s harshest and longest full lockdowns, despite thali bajana, candle jalana, we’re adding almost 40,000 cases a day!

And barring Mexico, India is now also seeing the most deaths every day, close to 600 daily. With over 27,000 deaths, in a few days India will go past Spain, France and Italy.

In April, we were calling them failed states. We were saying, thank god we’re not in Spain or Iran. But we’ve left them way behind now.

To those who say our fatality rate of 18 per million is lower than Spain, France and Italy, I say, why not compare us with fatality rates of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and New Zealand or Thailand, or why not with Vietnam which has not had a single COVID-19 death!

1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)

Or even, why isn’t all of India like Kerala, which has seen just 40 deaths in all these months? What mistakes did the rest of India make? And are we still making those same mistakes?

Big Mistake #1: Low Testing

We never tested enough when the pandemic started, meaning we failed to identify thousands of positive cases before they passed the virus on. And over 2-3 months, those thousands became lakhs of cases.

Even now, our testing rate of 10,000 per million is way behind others:

1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)

What’s worse – the testing rate for huge states like UP, Jharkhand, and Telangana is below 5,000, that’s half the national average. The result of this is clear in Telangana where cases have shot up from just 5,000 in mid-June to 45,000 now.

Bihar’s testing rate is just 2,600, 1/4th of the national average. Because of such low testing, Bihar simply doesn’t have enough data about the spread of the virus. It cannot predict where its pandemic is headed. So naturally, Bihar is again under total lockdown till 31 July.

But surely we can ask Nitish Kumar, if Tamil Nadu’s testing rate can be 22,000, why not Bihar?

Why must people bear the economic hardships of repeated lockdowns because a government fails to do its job?

Big Mistake #2: Not Adding Enough Health Infrastructure During Lockdown

This is what experts have said:

1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)
1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)

Several states lack specialised tertiary hospitals, they lack well equipped district hospitals, and this is costing lives. Add to that, India’s chronic shortage of doctors, of nurses, that can, of course, hardly be addressed in a few weeks.

Big Mistake #3: Giving Up on Contact Tracing and Isolation

This is what experts have said:

1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)

The babudoms of most states could not shake out of their chronic laziness and allowed numbers to soar. In many states, isolation and quarantining was done without empathy, brute force was used, facilities were poor, and livelihood concerns ignored, leading to mass evasion.

So, naturally now the numbers are just rising by the day.

Big Mistake #4: Post Lockdown Public Apathy

Here, ordinary citizens like you and me are to blame. There are enough pictures and videos shot at public spaces across India that show how many of us have given up social distancing, are not wearing masks, are not sanitising our hands or surfaces and objects we commonly use. Maybe some of these are people desperately needing to get back to work, to survive economically. Maybe it’s fatigue from following all the many lockdown rules, but in large part, it’s a failure to grasp, even now, the seriousness of the pandemic and how simple, inexpensive and doable precautions can hugely protect us from coronavirus.

Big Mistake #5: Not Driven Enough By Science & Scientists.

This is what experts have said:

1.1M COVID Cases, Over 27,000 Deaths: Mistakes India Must Correct
(Graphics: The Quint)

For example, look at ICMR’s recent announcement that COVAXIN, the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR, will be ready for sale by 15 August. With COVAXIN only in Phase 1 human trials at the moment, that is a completely unscientific assertion. Perhaps it was made under political pressure but for ICMR, that’s leading India’s anti-COVID battle, to ignore science in such a manner is worrying.

Dr Varghese also underlines the need for district-level empowerment for local level health officials to use knowledge of local medical conditions and customise medical solutions accordingly.

Yeh Jo India Hai Na… it has already lost thousands of lives that it could have saved. The pandemic has thrown up several learnings. Ignoring those lessons could cost us many many more lives. Surely, none of us want that.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

Published: 
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!