(Representative Image) Photograph:( AFP )
Based solely on facts, it's safe to say that India is now emerging as a success story in fighting COVID-19, far from "bungling" the pandemic response
In March 2020, a New York-based foreign affairs analyst predicted a disaster in India as the COVID-19 pandemic left no territories untouched from its wrath. "Foreign Policy" questioned the effectiveness of India's lockdown. Two months later, this is what its headline said - India has bungled its coronavirus crisis.
Here is what The Boston Review said about India in July 2020 - "The government’s inadequate and impetuous management of the pandemic reflects an effort to win international approval by following the paradigm of advanced economies, without heeding the ethical urgency of providing a robust program of relief, both medical and economic".
Based solely on facts, it's safe to say that India is now emerging as a success story in fighting COVID-19, far from "bungling" the pandemic response. Developed countries are still struggling to cope with the virus. Now, India is recording a steady decline in cases.
India has the highest recovery rate among all the worst-affected countries at 97.3 per cent. In the United States, this number is just 64.5 per cent, and in the United Kingdom, it's 53.5 per cent. In addition, India's case fatality rate is below 1.5 per cent.
Now, the mutations fo the virus pose the next big threat to global health. So far, major variants have been recorded in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa.
The new strains are not necessarily always deadlier. But the UK strain has proved to be scary and is being called a "variant of concern".
This strain spreads more rapidly, and by doing so risks more lives. Science says virus mutations are only normal. India has no silver bullet for virus mutations, or for shielding itself against foreign variants. But it has vaccines.
Also read: Has India successfully tamed coronavirus?
Currently, the country has two Made-in-India vaccines - Oxford-Astrazeneca's Covishield, and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. The latter has shown to be effective against the UK strain, and AstraZeneca says it is working to adapt its vaccine to the new strains. So if mutations are the new big threat, vaccines have the solution. India has an edge here too. Currently, India is running the world's largest vaccination programme.
Over 82 lakh people have been vaccinated as of February 15, 2021, according to India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. India was the first country to vaccinate over 70 lakh people in 26 days. Despite this, some critics say that India's vaccine rollout is too slow. India is not just immunising its own, but also millions outside its borders.
Made-in-India vaccines have reached at least 20 countries in the form of both grants and commercial supplies. On February 14, Mexico received its shipment of Indian vaccines. Even Canada is expected to get coronavirus vaccines from India.
Deloitte predicts that India will be second only to the United States in terms of vaccine production this year. India is estimated to produce 3.5 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines in 2021, with the US having an edge by 0.5 billion.
Unlike developed countries, India will not try to ban vaccine exports. Even before the coronavirus struck - India would produce around 60 per cent of the world's vaccines. Almost a year into the pandemic- the world is leaning on India for vaccine supplies. At the beginning of the pandemic, South Korea emerged as a success story with its gold standard testing programme. Germany then challenged the virus wave in Europe with its response framework.
And now, when the world's richest nations are still struggling to cope with the virus, India is recording a decline in the virus cases. Currently, India is leading with an exemplary recovery rate while running the world's largest vaccination programme. India is providing free vaccines not just at home but also outside.
So, is India the new success story of the pandemic?