Listen to public health experts to tackle Covid
As the world's daily count of new cases of Covid-19 is falling, India is surging and scientists are already expressing concern over the possibility of ...
As the world's daily count of new cases of Covid-19 is falling, India is surging and scientists are already expressing concern over the possibility of third wave. They feel that if the Governments ignore the warning as it happened during the second wave, it would surely be a sort of tsunami. This could result in unimaginable loss of life. This report was sent to the Director, National Centre for Disease Control Dr Sujit Kumar Singh.
Unfortunately no one seems to be talking about this impending danger. The Scientists claim that they had warned the Centre in February or March about the second wave and it was told that unless the medical infrastructure was ramped up and precautions taken, the cases would surge at rapid speed as new mutants were being noticed.
But neither the high profile political executive nor the media reacted to it the way they should have and now we are facing problems like providing adequate beds, oxygen and drugs like Remdesivir.
The crisis the country faced during the first wave might not have been foreseen and we do not know from where and how the virus originated but as far as the second wave is concerned it's purely a making of the political executive.
Just as a captain of any team has to accept the responsibility if the team loses the match, the NDA government too needs to accept that together the Centre and State governments had failed in reducing the impact of second wave. Now a stage has come where the neighbouring tiny country Sri Lanka also started feeling threat from India and has cancelled air traffic between the two countries.
They ruling parties across the State did not prepare the administration and people to effectively face the challenge of second wave but instead encouraged mass gatherings at festivals and political rallies, including in a closely contested battleground in different states.
As a result, the country which was positioning itself to help other countries, having exported more than 66 million doses of vaccines, is today looking towards other countries for vaccine.
This situation arises close on the heels of the announcement of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at World Economic Forum that India had saved the world from major tragedy and the claim of the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan that India had kicked out the virus and we are now again struggling with new mutants.
But instead of accepting that yes there was a slip, a lot of PR activity is on to say that Governments are doing their best and are now well prepared.
Unfortunately, neither the central government nor the State governments are willing to accept criticism. In the last six years all governments have indulged in media management. The media has either been won over in some cases and/or have been put under pressure not to carry negative news. What news agencies like BBC or Bloomberg are saying, our media is not able to express.
Some State governments like Andhra Pradesh Government has even created confusion on the variant N 440 K which according to the advisor of the CCMB Dr Rakesh Mishra is a rogue virus and spreads 10-15 per cent faster. But this has been contested by another team of scientists saying it was found in January itself and is now getting weakened.
The media feels that its job is over by reporting what the government says and to authenticate their version take the opinions of scientists. There is also a growing opinion that media is more focusing on dying people and burning pyres 24x7.
While they should point out whereever facilities were not reaching the patients but along with that they should suggest solutions like reporting about the success stories of those who survived and how they could give a boost not only to their immunity but also their morale. Media should motivate the man on the street to follow health protocols like wearing of mask and encourage everyone to serve.
No Indian media is showing courage to say 'look boss it's the failure of governments' as they not only held elections to different State Assemblies like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam and by elections in states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
As people across India battled the virus, politicians were still holding rallies. The media too has to take the blame as even though the surge in cases was clear, it could not say that governments are being callous and in denial mode. No Minister or public representative was questioned why they were not wearing a mask.
Today when people are facing acute shortage of drugs, oxygen, beds and even indigenous vaccine, all governments are indulging in knee-jerk reaction. Initially, both the Central and the State governments refused to accept that cases were surging and now they are making tall claims that they have enough infrastructure in place.
But then their statements do not match with the ground reality and it is the doctors, nurses and frontline warriors who are under tremendous pressure and stress. In their eagerness to show that they have been managing the situation in most efficient manner all governments are fudging figures.
Quoting Mihir Sharma, a columnist for Bloomberg, the BBC commented, "As is typical in India, official arrogance, hyper-nationalism, populism and an ample dose of bureaucratic incompetence have combined to create a crisis." Certainly, it was a bold comment but what he too failed to say was that Indian media blinked at what was happening.
Why did the media blink? Well that's a different story. They allowed themselves to get managed by the political executive.
It's time, the leaders look out of their ivory towers and listen to what the public health experts say. They point out that having seemingly contained the virus during the first wave, Indians got too complacent too quickly. Yet, the crisis is not just the result of lapses in the last two months. It is also rooted in an ugly truth.
The first is the style of paranoid, authoritarian governance practiced and perfected over the last seven years and the political executive working overtime to counter the opposition criticism rather than get into the field and see that the systems work.
Though there are instances where ambulances are charging a bomb to carry the dead bodies, the public representatives do not show as much interest in trying to address the problem but would vie with each other if anyone criticises their leader whether it be the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister.
The only solution to checkmate the third wave according to Scientists is to go in for massive vaccination program. The Centre and State governments should take it up in mission mode. Vaccination and usage of masks and following health protocols will help in preventing the third wave from being a serious one.
Vaccination apart from building immunity levels among the beneficiaries will also reduce the emergence of new mutants and the in the process the existing variants would become weak.
Experts say, "We can't freeze human life. If we can't physically distance in the crowded cities, we can at least make sure everyone wears a proper mask. And wear it properly. That's not a big ask."
Lets hope that the Central and State Governments will put politicking on back burner, forget about political opponents in opposition parties and focus on ensuring that the third wave does not show much impact in India or else whether anyone likes it or not the sheen of Modi's popularity will take a beating.
People had stood by Modi though he had announced national lockdown or decision of demonetisation keeping his cards close to his chest. But now a change in the perception among people is visible.