According to comprehensive reports, in recent days, the situation of India’s unstoppable epidemic situation has given people the illusion that time has gone back to the beginning of 2020.
Nearly 1 million people were diagnosed within 3 days; on average, one person died every 5 minutes in the capital of New Delhi; patients were sent to the hospital by ambulance but there were no beds; helpless people could only witness the death of their loved ones…
Why did this country, which initiated a vaccination plan early after the advent of the new crown vaccine, been tortured by the epidemic in just a few months?
At the end of 2020, Indian officials announced that the country has reversed the epidemic curve, and the situation seems to be very good.
In early 2021, the infection rate of the new crown in India has steadily declined, and the number of new cases in a single day fell below 10,000. As of mid-February 2021, India had an average of 11,000 new cases in a single day, and the average number of deaths on the 7th was less than 100.
The authorities and the people began to relax their vigilance. Various religious activities and political elections continued to be held. High-level officials and religious leaders attended large-scale gatherings of people. Many people did not take basic protective measures including wearing masks and keeping distance.
On April 12, local time, more than 2 million Hindu pilgrims gathered on the banks of the Ganges to bathe in the river to celebrate the “Big Pot Festival”. Most of them did not wear masks. Because the crowd is too large, the Indian police cannot take restrictive measures at all.
Unsurprisingly, after the “Great Pot Festival”, the number of newly diagnosed cases in India has repeatedly hit new highs. On April 24, local time, the number of new cases in a single day exceeded 300,000 for three consecutive days. On average, one person dies from the new crown pneumonia every 5 minutes in the capital of New Delhi.
-Lack of medicine and lack of medicine has led to a surge in deaths
As a country with a total population of nearly 1.4 billion, the middle and lower classes of Indian society have always had the problem of lack of medical care and medicine. The new crown epidemic has exacerbated this problem.
Dr. Gegia, a consultant at Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, India, said that due to the surge in patients, there are no beds in the emergency room. “We don’t have that much oxygen supply. The places that provide oxygen supply are already overcrowded. Patients have to bring their own oxygen cylinders to enter, but there may not be oxygen. We all want to help them, but there are not enough beds, and there is no oxygen to provide them.”
He said: “All our telephone lines are full. People keep calling the helpline. The outside of the hospital is also chaotic: an ambulance stops and the patient wants to get off, but the problem is that there are no more beds.”
Singha, an intensive care specialist in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, said, “I have never seen this before in the intensive care unit for 20 years.”
Days and nights are full of helplessness, anxiety and fear, and ruthless bad news continues to come.
All life-saving necessities are in short supply or can only be found on the black market. Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana also face severe shortages. The Indian Air Force is delivering oxygen tanks and supplies to different parts of the country.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently met with the chief ministers and oxygen producers of the hardest-hit states. He asked the states to cooperate to stop hoarding and black market transactions, and said that the government is also considering further conversion of industrial oxygen so that it can be used for medical treatment to alleviate the crisis.
-Vaccination has a long way to go
For India, which is ambitiously planning to implement vaccination, there is a long distance between ideal and reality.
As early as mid-January 2021, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated a plan to vaccinate more than 1.3 billion people against the new crown. He proudly stated to Indians that this vaccination plan demonstrated India’s capabilities to the world.
However, as of late April, India had only received about 130 million doses of vaccine, which was far from enough to form the requirement of “herd immunity”. Moreover, early vaccination is limited to priority groups such as medical workers, front-line personnel, and over 45 years of age.
Although India has suspended exports of the new crown vaccine in late March, by mid-April, Indian media reported a shortage of vaccines in several states and hundreds of vaccination centers were closed. In the vaccination sites that remained open, the stock of vaccines was only enough for one or two days. .
The Indian government stated on April 19 that from May 1st, all adults over the age of 18 will receive the new crown vaccination. However, the current concern is that the existing vaccine supply gap may further slow down the speed of universal vaccination.
-Virus mutation or worse
What is even more worrying is that, unlike the beginning of the outbreak in 2020, India’s new coronavirus has mutated and mutated again.
India announced on March 25 that a “double mutation” variant of the new coronavirus was detected in samples collected from different states.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) quoted virologist Jameel to explain that double mutations in key regions of the viral spike protein may make the virus more contagious. He said that the mutation of the virus is the only “reasonable explanation” for the surge in confirmed cases.
Jameel also said that India’s screening of virus mutations was “relatively late”. As of December 2020, only 5,000 samples had been sequenced, and there was “no concerted action”. He pointed out that in January, India took action to coordinate various laboratories to speed up, and started operations in February, but “unfortunately, the second wave (epidemic) has already begun.” In a pandemic, sequencing is important because it allows scientists to monitor changes in the virus.
At present, British health officials are also investigating whether India’s “double mutant” virus is more likely to spread and whether it can avoid the immune protection provided by vaccines.
Dr. Camille, a virologist at Louisiana State University in the United States, said that a mutation of the mutant virus found in India is similar to the mutation of the mutant virus found in South Africa and Brazil. And this mutation may help the virus evade antibodies in the immune system, which can fight against the new coronavirus based on previous infection or vaccine experience.
“The situation in India is a painful reminder that the virus can be so rampant.” said the Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros. Scientists have warned that vaccination does not mean that infection can be prevented. Even after being vaccinated with the new crown vaccine, epidemic prevention measures should be taken and should not be taken lightly.