After India had weathered nearly a year of manageable COVID-19 cases, India has placed Mumbai and New Delhi on virtual lockdown following some 200,000 new cases daily. The upswing in infections has not only devastating consequences for India's health care system which serves almost 1.4 billion of its citizens, but its ability to distribute COVAX vaccines to the world. The Serum Institute of India is a major manufacturer of that vaccine, which has been distributed worldwide via the UN's World Health Organization. The Indian Government is redirecting supplies domestically given the surge in infections.
The densely populated state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, is experiencing shortages of ventilators and oxygen tanks as COVID victims flood the state's hospitals. From the AP report:
"As it struggles with the caseload, India is ramping up its vaccination drive. The Health Ministry said the total vaccinations crossed 114 million with more than 3 million doses administered on Wednesday.
When infections began plummeting in India in September, many concluded the worst had passed. Masks and social distancing were abandoned. When cases began rising again in February, authorities were left scrambling." (our emphasis)
India's situation, like ours, is a cautionary tale about relaxing standards and precautions too soon. The deadly virus is still out there, waiting to reemerge and kill if we allow it.
(photo: A deserted road outside of Mumbai's main rail terminal as restrictions on travel and movement are imposed. Rajanish Kakade / AP)