The irony of India’s COVID-19 battle rating at both ends

The irony of India’s COVID-19 battle rating at both ends

India posted a record-breaking inoculation performance by administering over 160 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines by last week, in just 105 days since the exercise began.

The development brought an ironical twist for a country that has grabbed the international headlines, registering higher mortalities with busy crematoria chocking in smoke as Indians cremate their loved ones.

But the vaccination milestone, which was achieved under the phase-3 of the nationwide vaccination drive, ensured the Asian country surpassed an earlier record established by the US, which administered the same number of jabs in 111 days. China comes third in the rating by reaching the milestone in 116 days.

The Indian embassy in South Sudan revealed in a statement on Thursday that the health ministry data, young people aged 18-44 years, comprised the 6,71,285 beneficiaries that had received their first dose of COVID vaccine across 12 states.

The states are Chhattisgarh (1,026), Delhi (82,000), Gujarat (161,625), Jammu and Kashmir (10,885), Haryana (99,680), Karnataka (3,840), Maharashtra (1,11,621), Odisha (13,768), Punjab (908), Rajasthan (1,30,071), Tamil Nadu (4,577) and Uttar Pradesh (51,284).

The embassy said that ‘more than 14 lakh vaccination doses were administered in 24 hours on Tuesday, Day-109 of the vaccination drive.’

That made an administration of ‘16, 04 94,188 vaccine doses through 2,366,349 sessions, as per the provisional report till 7 am on Wednesday.’

The embassy’s press statement read, ‘‘These include 94,62,505 Healthcare Workers (HCWs) who have taken the 1st dose and 63,22,055 HCWs who have taken the 2nd dose, 1,35,65,728 Frontline Workers FLWs (1st dose), 73,32,999 FLWs (2nd dose).’’

‘‘The figure also includes 6,71,285 beneficiaries in the 18-45 age group (1st dose), 5,29,50,584 1st dose beneficiaries and 1,23,85,466 2nd dose beneficiaries more than 60 years old and 5,33,94,353 (1st dose) and 44,09,213 (2nd dose) beneficiaries aged 45 to 60 years.’’

The embassy further indicated that ‘10 states account for 66.86% of the cumulative doses given so far in the country. Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat head this list.’

Soaring numbers and deaths

But under the garb of rapid vaccination lies another disaster that has presented another challenge for New Delhi. For the past one month, India’s COVID-19 cases have spiked and deaths tolls have immensely increased. The grim state of affairs has been attributed to the mutant COVID-19 strain—B.1.617 variant— that initially caused havoc in the UK. The media reports have painted grotesque scenes from the Indian hospital with COVID-19 patients gasping for air with a few beds up for grabs.

On April 27, US President Joe Biden offered his support for India pledging to provide vaccines parallel appeals for oxygen also grew.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” Biden stated in a tweet.

India had recorded 21.07 million cases, 17.28 million recoveries and 230,168 deaths by the time of penning this article.

On May 5, the country recorded one of its highest cases in a day with 412, 618 people being found with the virus.