Rajeswari Devi, a 58-year-old lady, breathed her last after a 48-hour struggle to get an uninterrupted oxygen supply, a bed in a hospital, and an ambulance. She was finally taken to a hospital’s emergency ward as her oxygen saturation level drastically dropped. A CT Scan report revealed that she got severe pneumonia, one of the many complications from COVID-19.
However, since she did not have her COVID-19 test report, the hospital refused to treat or admit her. The desperate family had to take her to another hospital, and she died on the way. This is the kind of grave scenario millions of Indians are living within. The second wave of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in India, and this picture tells a thousand stories.
What Exactly Went Wrong?
As heartbreaking stories of COVID-19 related deaths are coming in from across the country, scientists say that the second wave is deadlier and more infectious than the first one. However, the overall mortality rate is still low. The country’s healthcare system has nearly collapsed, at least in some states, and the numbers have gone up quite dramatically.
This is especially the case in the past two months. There has been a spike of 35,000 new cases of infection on average daily. India confirmed 11,000 odd cases during the second week of February, and the daily average reached 22,000 cases in the next 50 days. And in the next ten days, the daily average reached 89,800 cases!
Experts think that the second wave spreads much faster than the first wave. India let its guards down in January when the daily average was negligible. This led to reopening theaters, shopping malls, and religious shrines. Election rallies were rampant in major parts of the country too. As many experts believe, the uptick directly results from massive public gatherings and low public awareness. As a false sense of normalcy prevailed, people started flouting the COVID-19 norms. And the entire country, or at least some of the major states, were caught off guard when the second wave hit back like a Tsunami. They did not see it coming and were not ready to deal with it!
How Is The Healthcare Scenario Now?
There is a sheer shortage of hospital beds across most Indian metro cities now. The social media sites are abuzz with people and organizations crying for help and sharing stories similar to that of Rajeswari Devi from across the country. State governments, as well as the central administration, have pulled up their socks. Still, experts say that it’s going to be an uphill task for the administration to combat the situation, going out of hand with each passing day.
More than 150,000 daily cases have become a routine now. The country recently reported 273,810 new cases, which is the biggest daily increase ever since the pandemic. Some of the worst-affected cities are Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai. The situation is no better in other cities, such as Bhopal, Lucknow, Kolkata, Surat, and Allahabad. Many public health experts think that both people and the administration did not utilize the lean time to get their acts together for the second wave.
The New Variant – A Bigger Threat
On March 25, 2021, India found a new variant of the virus in some samples. According to virologists, a double mutation has made the virus deadlier as it can easily escape the immune system now. Experts in the UK are now trying to find out whether a double mutant spreads faster and evades vaccines more easily than the earlier variants. The Public Health department of England has not listed the variant as a variant of concern.
However, many experts think that India began taking the mutations seriously quite late. The country now needs to tighten its safety protocols, speed up vaccination, and build efforts to take stock of the mutations.
The world needs more hospitals, medical facilities, and public health experts to address the shortage of vaccines, hospitals, and oxygen. Only a coordinated effort can help India survive this second wave. With world leaders offering their support to the Southeast Asian country, there is already a ray of hope for its citizens. And we can hope that everyone in the world overcomes this deadly pandemic and is soon respite from the struggle. Until then, mask up, sanitize, and stay safe!