India’s Covid crisis

 

Sir, – I refer to your editorial “India’s Covid crisis: The price of complacency” (April 22nd).

India is indeed in the grip of a ferocious second Covid wave since the last two weeks.

Without undermining in any manner the gravity of the situation, it may be said that the scale and speed of the spread of infection could not have been anticipated by the scientific or medical community, nor the Indian government.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general has stated that the situation is particularly complex, both in causative and management aspects.

Any country facing such an alarming surge in infections would invariably have its medical infrastructure seriously strained. In response, the Indian government has rallied all stakeholders, including the industry, scientists, healthcare workers, medical graduates and civil society in tackling the challenge in a multifaceted approach.

A major constraint has been the serious shortage of oxygen supplies and the government has, among other measures, commissioned 551 new oxygen generating plants in public medical facilities to cover all districts. Special “Oxygen Express” trains have been commissioned and the air force has been activated to facilitate the procurement and distribution processes. Urgent measures are being taken to procure essential medicines and equipment, and additional ICU units and hospital beds are being set up in mega-cities with the highest infection rates. At the same time, the government has advised strongly against hoarding of oxygen and medicines, and unnecessary hospitalisations in mild cases.

Your editorial points to a “lagging” vaccination programme, with India having administered more than 130 million doses, restricted to, as you mention, health workers, frontline staff and those above the age of 45. This may be a small number in relation to the size of the population, but this figure exceeds the total vaccinations administered in EU countries combined, and the third highest globally after China and the US. The vaccination rollout will be opened up to all above the age of 18 from May 1st. As a measure of our global responsibility, India has supplied 66 million doses of vaccines to 95 countries (in addition to medicines, equipment and much-needed healthcare workers). Going forward, the government is fully committed to supporting the expansion of domestic vaccine production facilities, including sourcing of essential raw materials from other countries.

There can be no complacency at any level, and science cannot and will not be undermined.

You have rightly pointed out that Covid knows no borders.

As a mark of exceptional global partnership, several countries like Ireland, as part of a rapid EU response, the UK and the US have committed emergency supplies of medical equipment and drugs, which is very sincerely appreciated, and will help considerably in ameliorating the conditions in India.

In these challenging times, a little more empathetic reporting would also be helpful. – Yours, etc,

TERENCE DICK,

Second Secretary,

Embassy of India,

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.