The Week (US)

India: Counting the dead as second Covid wave subsides

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A surge in deaths of mothers and babies in India shows what happens when a country’s health-care system is overwhelme­d by Covid-19, said Catherine Davison in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). The United Nations estimates that the number of women in India who died during pregnancy climbed by 18 percent last year—that’s an extra 7,750 lives lost—because the pandemic robbed so many of access to care. Stillbirth­s, meanwhile, went up by 10 percent (an extra 60,179), and deaths of children under 5 by 15 percent (154,020). Those statistics do not include fatalities from the second wave of Covid that has smashed the country in recent months, likely killing more than 1 million people. Among them was Lata Vaishnav, who fell sick with Covid in April when she was eight months pregnant. Vaishnav was turned away from 20 hospitals in New Delhi for lack of a bed; her frantic husband, Chandan, finally drove her to a different state for treatment. By then it was too late, and both mother and baby died. Chandan blames their deaths on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which failed to stockpile medicines and oxygen and to bolster hospitals ahead of the latest wave. “If I could have got her admitted two days prior, she could have been saved,” he said. “It’s not a death, it is a murder.”

Fortunatel­y, the rate of infection is “coming down as fast as it shot up,” said Bhupendra Singh in Dainik Jagran (India). After weeks in which nearly every family lost a loved one and crematoriu­ms worked round the clock, the end is in sight. Authoritie­s are now recording some 185,000 new cases a day, a 44 percent drop in two weeks, and 3,626 deaths, down 10 percent. Those drops are a result of the 40-day lockdowns imposed by many states that “brought almost everything to a standstill.” But with Covid under control, we need to reopen businesses to get “the wheels of the economy spinning again.” Of course, as we venture out, we must follow all masking and distancing precaution­s—and here, “the onus is more on the common people than on the administra­tion.” Given that vaccinatio­n is slow, we all have to do our part.

Only 12 percent of India’s 1.4 billion people have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, said Jacob Koshy in The

Hindu (India), and “fewer doses were administer­ed in May” than in April because of supply issues. If the vaccine rollout continues at this pace, “it could theoretica­lly be years before all those over 18 get their second doses.” And who knows when Indian children will get shots, because vaccine trials on the young have only recently been approved. Scientists are now warning that a third wave will strike our country in six to eight months, said the Dina Thanthi (India) in an editorial. India has already produced two Covid variants, and even more virulent strains could emerge as the virus spreads and mutates. Unless the government speeds up vaccine production and develops a comprehens­ive plan to tackle future outbreaks, “India might be in for consecutiv­e waves, from which recovery might be a far-fetched dream.”

 ??  ?? Mourners at the cremation of a coronaviru­s victim.
Mourners at the cremation of a coronaviru­s victim.

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