Medical journal denounces Indian government for ‘wasting’ Covid-19’s early success

The publication described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government response as “unforgivable.”

India is currently in the midst of the worst outbreak of Covid-19 in the world. On Sunday, it reported a further 403,738 cases, the fourth consecutive day in which more than 400,000 cases were registered and the country’s total reported infections exceed 22 million.

In India, more than 900,000 Covid-19 patients will receive oxygen – about a quarter of all active cases – and another 170,000 will receive a ventilator, the country’s health minister, Harsh Vardhan, said on Saturday. In India, the test positivity is about 22%, according to Johns Hopkins University, meaning it is unlikely to capture all Covid-19 cases.

The health ministry reported an additional 4,092 deaths on Sunday, with the country registering more than 4,000 deaths in a single day in a row.

India has now registered 242,362 Covid-19 deaths – the third highest mortality rate in the world. The Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates that India could reach one million deaths by August.

“If this result were to happen, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s government would be responsible for chairing an independent national disaster,” the Lancet editorial warned.

“Forgivable” acts

According to the Lancet editorial, India “wasted its early success” in controlling Covid-19.

The government failed by giving the public the according to the editorial, the country defeated the virus, which encouraged complacency and insufficient preparation, and slowed the start of the country’s “stumbled” vaccination campaign. Despite warnings of the “risk of scattered events,” religious festivals and political rallies can continue.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have prevented India’s devastating Covid-19 crisis, critics say.  He didn't
In addition, the government has tried to control online critical debates, with a request on Twitter to remove tweets about Covid-19, including those that were critical of Modi.

“Modi’s actions to stifle criticism and open debate during the crisis are essential,” the editorial said.

The editorial board urged India to increase the supply of vaccines and work to establish a fair distribution system for vaccines. There are 35 million people in India on Saturday night in local time received its second dose, or about 2.7% of India’s 1.3 billion people, with a full vaccination, according to a press release from the Ministry of Health.

He also urged India to publish accurate data, expand genomic testing, and explain to the public the need to wear masks, social isolation, stop mass gatherings, voluntary quarantine, and testing.

The editorial noted that until April, the government’s Covid-19 working group had not met for months.

“The consequences of the decision are clear to us and India must now reshape its response until the crisis rages,” the editorial said. “The success of this effort depends on the government accepting its mistakes, providing responsible leadership and transparency, and implementing a public health response that is science-focused.”

CNN had previously contacted Covid-19 working group chairman VK Paul.

Oxygen availability

As hospitals struggle with desperate oxygen shortages, India’s Supreme Court has set up a 12-member National Task Force to assess the availability and distribution of medical oxygen, following a court order released on Saturday.
The world has given millions to Covid aid to India.  Why not reach those who need it most?
In India, hospitals have reported desperate oxygen shortages despite dozens of countries promising critical help. Last week, the Indian government said it had installed a “modernized mechanism” to distribute aid, but state and local authorities said they were in the dark.

The task force was set up to help the central government contribute and provide strategies to address the challenges of the pandemic, according to a court order released on Saturday.

“The reason for setting up the task force at national level is to facilitate a public health response to a pandemic based on scientific and specialist knowledge,” the regulation said, adding that it expects leading experts. “It makes it easier for minds to meet and formulate scientific strategies to deal with an unprecedented human crisis.”

Members include senior health professionals, academics and government officials.

In order, the terms of reference should “assess and make recommendations to the whole country based on the need, availability, and distribution of medical oxygen,” and determine the amount of medical oxygen to be distributed to states and unions. “on a scientific, rational and equitable basis”.

CNN’s Seoul Jake Kwon and Hong Kong’s Akanksha Sharma contributed to this report.