India will fight the possible third wave of Covid, but prejudiced minds underestimate the country’s ability every time

Arizona-based on August 11 published a column titled “India isn’t ready for another COVID wave.”

The column was written by opinion columnist Mihir Swarup Sharma. There is no doubt the pandemic has caused a devastating impact on peoples’ lives and the economy worldwide. Not only India but many developing and developed countries have witnessed havoc and uncertainty on account of the pandemic.

Therefore, it is hypocritical to merely target India. The US-based news outlet maintains that,“months-long export ban on Indian-made vaccines has left the rest of the emerging world struggling to fend off the delta variant… India’s establishment has turned inward on every front over the past few years.”

It seems that the news portal has forgotten that India supplied free vaccines and other medical equipment to many poor and developing countries as a goodwill gesture.

India was one of the countries which provided assistance to other nations during the very beginning of the pandemic. The export ban came only after India witnessed a sharp spike in the number of Covid cases back home in April-May 2021. Turning “inward” was the only option before the country to save its large and dense population.

The news outlet has criticized the Indian government unfavorably for no valid reasons. Let’s expose this hypocrisy through facts and look at the stats available so far. The very first parameter to analyse the impact of the pandemic is to have a look at the number of deaths recorded by countries. On the basis of the latest updated data provided by, let’s compare India’s death toll with five developed countries of the world.

Worldometers data

Country Total Cases Total Deaths Deaths/1M pop Population
USA 37,466,718 637,561 1,914 333,177,837
India 32,225,175 431,674 309 1,395,198,070
Brazil 20,364,099 569,218 2,657 214,252,319
Russia 6,600,836 170,499 1,168 146,004,650
France 6,471,035 112,656 1,722 65,435,472
UK 6,267,437 130,953 1,918 68,285,687

The data indicates that India has recorded the lowest number of deaths per one million population. Even though India has high population density, which makes the people of the country highly vulnerable to the disease, its position is far better than the aforementioned countries of the world.

Another parameter to analyse the governments’ response to the disease is ‘recovery rate’.

Worldometers data
Country Total Cases Total Recovered
USA 37,466,718 30,153,576
India 32,225,175 31,403,959
Brazil 20,364,099 19,218,630
Russia 6,600,836 5,884,316
France 6,471,035 5,886,588
UK 6,267,437 4,824,915

The data indicates that the recovery rate in India is highest among other five countries. India’s health management and the dedication of its health workers contributed to the overall recovery.

Let’s now have a look at the performance of countries at the front of vaccination. Unlike many other countries, India manufactured its own vaccines and made them available to the public. India’s vaccines are cheap, efficient and effective against various variants of Covid. India’s vaccines give better protection against Covid than many other vaccines. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 7, 2021 announced free vaccines by the Central Government to all the countrymen. Unlike other countries, India is running a free vaccination drive. Following is the ‘Global Vaccination’ data provided by CNN.

CNN data

Country Total Doses
Mainland China 1,853,839,000
India 543,846,290
United States 355,768,825
Brazil 163,452,602
Japan 108,179,498
Germany 97,263,881
United Kingdom 87,627,380
Turkey 82,865,497
Indonesia 81,412,426
France 79,839,977

The data indicates that India is far better than other countries in administering the Covid jabs. With 543846290 vaccine shots given to the people so far, India is on the top after China. India has been using vaccines that require two doses to provide the greatest protection and is on the path to have its people fully vaccinated. The success of vaccination campaigns solely depends on the management of the governments. The data indicates that the management by the Indian government is better than other countries.

Findings of fourth national sero-survey bring good news

The findings of the sero survey (national blood serum survey which tests for antibodies), released last month, showed that 67.6% of the total population of India and 62% of those who have not been vaccinated have developed antibodies against Covid. Nearly all age groups above 6 years have antibodies. This is good news.

Preparations for possible third wave of Covid

Taking lessons from the second wave of Covid, the government is taking all necessary measures to minimize the impact of a possible third wave. The first shield to protect people from Covid is their immunity. To boost immunity, vaccination is an effective and efficient way. Although public health, sanitation, hospitals and dispensaries come under ‘State List Subjects’ in the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, the Central Government of India is fully bearing the cost of the free vaccination drive.

Epidemiologists say that children may be more vulnerable to the third wave. That’s why the government is all set to vaccinate the people below the age of 18. The government is likely to start a vaccination drive for children by the last week of August. Apart from this, the central government has been providing assistance to the state governments at various levels.

The central government has been sponsoring Emergency Covid Response Plans (ECRP). On August 13, the central government, under the ECRP, released a fresh installment to all states to help them boost their health infrastructure in preparation of the third wave of Covid-19. The installment will ensure implementation of critical activities at the state/district levels to prepare the public healthcare systems. The Centre said this amount will be used to create paediatric units in districts, increase the number of oxygen-supported beds and ICU beds, and provide essential drugs including buffer stock up to the cost of Rs 1 crore per district.

Aim of centrally sponsored ECRP scheme

--Creation of 827 paediatric units in the districts, which will result in additional creation of 19,030 oxygen-supported beds and 10,440 ICU/HDU beds.

--To meet the requirement of essential medicines for Covid-19 management, including creation of buffer stock. Approvals have been accorded to 740 districts in the states/UTs for providing essential drugs including buffer stock up to the cost of Rs 1 crore per district.

--To establish 42 paediatric centres of excellence, at least one in each state/UT, (either in medical colleges, state government hospitals or central hospitals like AIIMS, INIs, etc.) for providing Tele-ICU services, mentoring and technical hand-holding to the district paediatric units.

--To augment 23,056 ICU beds in the public healthcare system out of which 20 per cent will be paediatric ICU beds.

--To provide care closer to the community due to the ingress of Covid-19 in rural, peri-urban and tribal areas, by creating 8,010 pre-fabricated structures for adding additional beds at the existing CHCs, PHCs and SHCs (6-20 bedded units) which will help in creation of 75,218 oxygen-supported beds.

--To establish 203 field hospitals (50-100 bedded units) depending on the requirements posed by the states/UTs in Tier-II or Tier-III cities and district headquarters which will help in creation of 13,065 oxygen-supported beds.

--To install 961 liquid medical oxygen storage tanks with support to 1,450 facilities for medical gas pipeline system (MGPS), with an aim to support at least one such unit per district.

--To augment the existing fleet of ambulances, with 5,768 Advanced Life Support and Basic Life Support ambulances.

--To implement Hospital Management Implementation System in 621 district hospitals and 933 other public health care facilities like medical colleges/SDH/CHCs.

--To augment tele-consultation services in 733 district hubs in the country.

--To create and strengthen a total of 433 RT-PCR labs in the districts not covered so far.

--Support is being provided for the procurement of 18.64 crore RT-PCR and 16.55 crore Rapid Antigen Test Kits to perform at least 35.19 crore tests in nine months.

***The writer is a Delhi-based journalist; views expressed are his own