India detected its first cases of coronavirus in the state of Kerala among three medical students arriving from Wuhan. As a result, a national lockdown was inevitably declared on March 25, 2020. By May 2020, five cities in India contained half of the total cases in the nation: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Thane. For the first time on June 10, 2020, India’s recoveries surpassed active cases. Infection rates began to decline by September and eventually dropped to under 15,000 cases per day in January of 2021.
However, the second wave of cases, far larger than the first, swept across the country in March of 2021. Zarir Udwadia, a clinician-researcher in pulmonary medicine at PD Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre in Mumbai has said that “the second wave has made the last one look like a ripple in a bathtub.” In April, viral images and videos on social media showing bodies heaped on the streets and in makeshift crematoriums truly showed the extent to which the second wave of coronavirus affects the lives of everyday people in India. This wave has left hospitals with crippling insufficiencies of vaccines, hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, and other supplies.
On May 26, 2021, COVID-19 cases in India surpassed 27 million, and over 300,000 deaths were reported. This has placed India at the second-highest nation globally for number of cases and third for deaths by COVID. Even so, there are serious concerns about whether the statistical numbers hold true. Due to the lack of testing in the countryside, many are worried about the number of undocumented infections that are present. Currently, 23.5 percent of the population is testing positive for COVID-19. Nevertheless, if a greater share of India’s 1.4 billion population were to be tested, there is no doubt that millions of new cases would be discovered. The Economist infers that the true number of COVID-19 cases is far closer to one million. However, the question arises: How did the COVID-19 outbreak in India become this bad?
This specific question even baffles experts on the coronavirus. However, there are numerous potential factors contributing to India’s dire situation, one being large-scale group gatherings. Ramanan Laxminarayan, an epidemiologist at Princeton University, said that in January, “there was a public narrative that India had conquered COVID-19.” Many began to relax on protocols and returned to socializing, traveling, and hosting large weddings, especially after India initiated vaccination. In fact, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made the appalling decision to lift almost all of India’s restrictions. On top of that, he organized large-scale political rallies and even a religious festival that attracted tens of thousands of people from all over the nation.
Another potential factor for India’s disastrous situation is new, unforeseen COVID variants. Although it is indefinite that the existence of extremely infectious variants is the chief factor that caused India’s outbreak to exacerbate, scientists generally believe that these variants played a probable role. Several studies have discovered that the B.1.1.7 strain is 40 to 70 percent more infectious than previous variants, and appears to be more fatal as well. Presently, the variant B.188.8.131.52, initially discovered in the United Kingdom, is now the most widespread variant in the Indian state of Maharashtra. With hardly three percent of India’s 1.3 billion population being vaccinated, variants are an increasingly serious threat to an unpredictable, third wave of COVID-19.
To assist the COVID-19 catastrophe in India, Singapore, Germany, the UK, France, Russia, Australia, China, and Pakistan have all offered to send oxygen-related supplies and medical aid. The World Health Organization said that they would send staff and supplies to India as well. As many countries sent aid, the pressure has been put on the United States to help more. The Biden administration announced that the US would send vaccine supplies, ventilators, oxygen-related materials, and other materials to India. However, American pharmaceutical companies have refused to “share technologies and know-how” with international manufacturers.
Now, it is more essential than ever to curb the seemingly eternal COVID-19 pandemic. However, other nations can learn from India’s experience. It is clear that one of the major reasons for India’s second massive coronavirus flare-up was a lack of social distancing. Thus, one of the major ways one can help is to stay away from mask-less gatherings and large events. In addition, it is imperative to receive a free COVID vaccine as soon as possible. That way, we, as a country, can eventually build up a powerful national barricade to the hazardous, everlasting fire that characterizes the COVID-19 pandemic.
India COVID: 27,367,935 Cases and 315,263 Deaths – Worldometer.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/india/. Accessed 26 May 2021
“India’s Coronavirus Infections Ebb but States Struggle for Vaccines.” Reuters, 25 May
“India’s COVID-19 Crisis Has Spiralled out of Control.” The Economist, The Economist
Newspaper, 3 May 2021, www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2021/05/03/indias-COVID-19-crisis-has-spiralledout-of-control.
“As COVID-19 Rages in India, Scientist Warns Further Waves ‘Inevitable.’” Reuters, 5
May 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/india/india-posts-record-daily-rise-coronavirus-deaths-2021-05-05/.
Mallapaty, Smriti. “India’s Massive COVID Surge Puzzles Scientists.” Nature, vol. 592,
7856, Apr. 2021, pp. 667–68. www.nature.com, doi:10.1038/d41586-021-01059-y.
“COVID-19 Pandemic in India.” Wikipedia, 26 May 2021. Wikipedia,
“How Did the COVID-19 Outbreak in India Get so Bad?” Washington Post.
www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/04/27/india-COVID-surge-faq/. Accessed 26 May 2021.