3) I hope people realizes how important India it’s also the world’s largest maker of vaccines for COVID. But it recent halted all exports due to this surge. Hence Canada 🇨🇦 is now delayed in its vaccine deliveries due to the crisis there in India.
I had several outdoor lunches with friends not seen in a year. My daughter had a sleepover with her best friend, who she’d only met masked at the park since schools closed in March 2020. I planned face-to-face interviews and out-of-town stories, and felt the stirring of my old zest for life.
I wasn’t alone in hoping the worst was over in India. Many who’d confined themselves to their homes for nearly a year began stepping out as infections dropped. Winter saw a wedding boom, as couples rushed to tie the knot with family and friends in attendance. Parks were packed with picnickers. Millions flocked to the sacred Ganges river for religious rituals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his closest lieutenants also swung into action, holding massive political rallies — with crowds as big as 700,000 people — to campaign for his Bharatiya Janata party in ongoing state assembly elections.
Now India is paying for its imprudence, reeling from an alarming second wave of Covid-19 that threatens to overwhelm a healthcare system yet to recover from a gruelling year. From around 11,000 new infections daily in February, the country recorded more than 126,265 new cases on Wednesday. The virus is spreading at ferocious speed: it took just six weeks for daily new infections to surge by a magnitude that took three months last year.
Until this week, India had few restrictions on commercial, social or public activity, and many Indians saw little cause for worry. But doctors on the front lines are now sounding the alarm. “This is going to overwhelm us in a very big, and a very bad way,” said Dr Sushila Kataria of Medanta Hospital, which now has 200 Covid-19 inpatients, up from 30 in early March.
Mumbai pulmonologist Zarir Udwadia, who believes the current surge is driven by a new, more infectious variant, says the prominent Breach Candy Hospital now has a waiting list of 150 Covid-19 patients seeking admission. “It’s impossible to get a bed for love or money,” Udwadia said. “The ICUs are full of ventilated patients and wards of patients who need oxygen.”
India aims to vaccinate around 300m of its most vulnerable residents, and has so far given around 87m doses, or about 6.5 for every 100 people. But after exporting more than 64m Indian-made doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab — one of two used domestically — the country is now facing a potential vaccine shortage, as demand outstrips local production capacity. Top Indian pharmaceutical companies have tie-ins for local production of other globally approved vaccines, like Russia’s Sputnik V, but regulators want local “bridging studies” to gauge their effectiveness before approving them for use.