Updated: Jan 12
During the months of April and May, India faced one of its toughest challenges:- the second wave of Covid-19. The Modi government was truly stretched to its limits as the situation demanded the government’s best to handle the situation while also trying to keep both the economy and the healthcare system intact. It’s safe to say, the government did not handle the crisis ideally but such was the severity of the wave of Covid that nothing could be done apart from bolstering up medical facilities and institutions. The second wave was inevitable. The one word that can describe the government’s efforts is adequate. Neither great nor sub-standard.
Was the government reckless before the second wave?
For starters, the government is not a person by itself, so it is inaccurate to say that the government was reckless. They were merely trying to stimulate the economy and pull hundreds of millions of unskilled labourers out of unemployment. The re-opening of movie theatres, wedding halls, restaurants, and various other industries was essential to pulling the Indian economy out of its slump and back to its predicted growth rates for the new financial year beginning in April. If the government chose not to reopen anything and kept horribly restrictive curfews on the people, then could anyone account for millions of impoverished Indians being kept out of jobs for months on end? The IT and service sectors employ skilled labourers hence, the people employed in this sector didn’t suffer, while semi-skilled labourers found partial employment for repairs, here and there. But it was the unskilled labourers that didn't have any source of income during lockdowns and curfews. Businesses and entrepreneurships that are highly important for the economic development of a nation suffered as well due to the pandemic. If we take into account all of these factors, would one say that the government was being reckless, or were they foreseeing India’s future as an economy? The facts are here but the opinion lies with you.
Could a higher vaccination rate have reduced the impact of the second wave?
The answer is a resounding yes. A higher vaccination rate would have undoubtedly reduced the death rate during the peak. The government could have done better as there is always room for improvement. In the month of April, the vaccination rate took a hit as a result of overcrowding in hospitals giving them no time for vaccinations. The supply of vaccines as well was slowed down due to lack of transport and many states being under lockdown. In the initial phases, the vaccination rate was slow not because of a shortage in supply but due to vaccine hesitancy and the vaccines being available only to a specific age group. Opening up the vaccines to every single adult in the vast nation of India during the peak of the wave was definitely a misstep. However, from there, the government has definitely learnt from its mistake and as is evident from the consistent vaccine rate of about 5 million people everyday, the government is definitely nailing the process. As for the selection of vaccines, deals are being made with various firms to get them into India and ease the burden on the two Indian pharma companies namely, Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India.
What steps could the government have taken to prevent the severity of the covid spike?
The second wave of Covid caught the government off guard in the middle of its economic revival. They were simply trying to regenerate the economy. The wave was unexpected, industries were being opened up and because of that, it was far more severe. If the government played it safe and kept everything closed as it had done before, India would have been a poorer economy and hindered economic development. They took a gamble, a gamble between the economy and covid. Looking at that, the government chose the former but it didn't work out. The balance between the two is a thin one, and the government failed to balance both as they hoped for one to benefit. ut in the end the economy did not benefit and Covid ran through the nation unabashedly. Perhaps an increase in the investment of medical facilities would have allowed them to keep industries while also managing the virus.
Will the third wave be as severe as the second wave?
If there’s one thing, anyone can take from this entire experience is that the virus is unpredictable. Scientists may say that there’s going to be a fourth wave or fifth wave while it may never happen. It would take the smartest A.I with thousands of algorithms to accurately predict how the virus will mutate and how it will spread. Regardless, with current speculation and data, the third wave is probably not going to be as severe due to a plethora of reasons. Those being an increase in the vaccinated population, and those who have already been infected will possess Covid fighting antibodies to name a few. However, with Covid variants being reported all around the world, most notably the Delta variant, the severity could change drastically. For these variants have shown resistance to vaccines, in some countries they have even reignited spikes in cases. The question begs to be asked, until when can science keep fighting the virus before the entire world gets infected?
Could the government have done a better job in handling the virus overall?
The government could have undoubtedly done a better job in handling the virus. Having thousands of deaths everyday is never the sign of a good job, but it would take only a miracle for any government in the world to prevent death by Covid-19. With India being one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the government needed to be on top of its game and prioritize Covid responses- which it didn’t. However, in a country as large as India, new problems spring up like strands of hair everyday, which essentially rules out a hundred percent response from the government. While it's safe to say the government didn’t do its best however, could any other party in India have done a better job in handling the virus?