COVID – The Second Wave and India: A Tale of Two Months
January 29: A quick recap of how the faith of Indians turned and twisted in 2 months as the second wave of Covid hit India. To say the least, the country was not prepared for such a massive toll on the healthcare system, and it collapsed. The country’s population gasped for air, and simultaneously, the markets crashed. Let’s have a look step by step at how it all turned out.
Let’s take a look at the headlines in March of 2021 (10 months ago) –
- Under 10,000 cases a day for a population of 1.4 billion people
- Lowest fatality rates in the world.
- The country opened up after the strictest lockdown ever known
- Industrial production inched back to pre covid levels
- Stock Markets were touching an all-time high
- India vaccine exporter to the world. Supplied to over 70 countries
- 6 Indian vaccines are under production. Frontline workers vaccinated
- India hailed in global media as a beacon of hope for tackling covid
Now let’s have a look at the month of April 2021 (9 months ago)
- In less than 30 days, India went from 10,000 cases/ day to 4 lac/day
- From being a vaccine exporter, India became a vaccine importer
- Local lockdowns imposed by each State. GDP hit once again
- Ten times increase in demand for Medical Oxygen across cities.
- From 900 MT India needed 9000 MT of Oxygen
- Breakdown of health infra as capacity could not keep up
- Medicine shortages and basic health infra- not available.
- Images of Indians dying and breathless splash global media
- From being hailed as a beacon, India shown as a failing State
Interesting data point –
The first to be hit was Mumbai in the month of March. India’s financial capital
Next to be hit was Delhi in the month of April. India’s Capital
Finally – Bangalore was hit in the month of May 2021. India’s IT Capital
What went wrong (In one Month)
- The variant India got hit by is supposed to be 50% more virulent. Came in from the UK and South African strains
- An international influx of passengers especially from Canada and the UK increased (especially to participate in the farmer’s protests etc)
- States took their eye off the ball and did not announce lockdowns
- The Center was in the middle of elections in West Bengal. Took eye of too
- While we can blame election rallies and religious gatherings to some extent, the exponential increase of 10 times in the cases in less than one month needs more analysis
How did India tackle the Second Wave – (the good news)
- From a caseload of 4 lac cases/day and positivity rate of 18%, India is down to 95K cases/day with a positivity rate of 5%
- India continues to have the lowest fatality rates in the world (adjusting for unaccounted deaths and unreported deaths too). It is at 1.11%
- Highest recovery rates in the world. 96%
- Amongst the highest vaccinations in the World. Passed the 24 cr ie 240 million mark. Yet that is just 15% of our population.
- India is testing the highest number of people in the World. Uttar Pradesh (the largest State in India, larger in population than Brazil) is testing 2 lac, people, a day. 375 million in total. 2 million tested in a day (India)
- Oxygen supplies went from 900m MT to 9000 MT in less than 40 days. The entire country was moving oxygen on railways, seas, Indian Air Force flights, international flights. Countries went all out to help India create Oxygen capacity and it was the largest most complex logistical exercise undertaken. Today India is self-sufficient and many States have quadrupled their capacity (in anticipation of a third wave)
- India is amongst only 5 countries that have vaccines for Covid. 4 more vaccines are under development and 1 will be an inhaled version.
- India lowered the vaccination age from 45 to 18 thereby getting a larger population to be involved. Currently, it is estimated that India will hit herd immunity by Sept 30th. This is at 10 million jabs a day.
- 10 million jabs are equal to the entire population of countries like Qatar, Kuwait or Singapore per day
- The Private Sector and the Center came together in many ways. Many large organisations contributed their CSR funds to the PM Cares funds and also vaccinated their employees.
- The RBI played a key role in providing financial support to the Economy. Many credit lines announced ample liquidity. Non-printing measures
- The Indian Government has provided food grains and pulses to over 800 million Indians for the last 10 months and will continue to do so for the next 6 months. Largest food distribution program in the World.
India has been hit and it hits hard. But it is healing and getting back on her feet. It is not a country that will falter or fail. India will fight and excel. We tackled the first wave brilliantly. The second wave caught us by complete surprise. But never again.
In the meantime, the global news is now rife with articles suggesting that Covid may be lab produced and may have been leaked. A dimension that directly means reparation and payback. Let’s see what the future holds.
About Karan Datta
With over 25 years of experience in finance, he has now switched roles as a speaker and loves to enlighten people about Foreign Affairs and Finance. His Experience as a speaker is about addressing the need of the hour issues like the Cost of Terrorism in India and National Security.
He currently sits on the boards of Edelweiss Asset Management, Prudent Corporate Advisory and Tamohara Investments as an Independent Director.