Top medical journal Lancet has published a hard-hitting editorial slamming India’s handling of coronavirus pandemic and accusing the government of ‘squandering away its early success’ despite repeated warnings of the dangers of a second wave. The editorial warned that India could witness a staggering 1 million Covid-related deaths by August 1.
Citing a recent estimate of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the Science journal said that India’s coronavirus death count may hit 1 million by August 1. “If that outcome were to happen, Modi’s government would be responsible for presiding over a self-inflicted national catastrophe,” the top peer-review journal stated in an editorial published on May 7.
The early successes registered by India in combating the first wave of the pandemic were “squandered”, the journal stated, adding that the government’s COVID-19 taskforce “had not met in months” till April – when several parts of the country were gripped by the second wave.
The journal tore into the government’s recent order to take down posts criticising its Covid management, from Twitter “Modi’s actions in attempting to stifle criticism and open discussion during the crisis are inexcusable,” Lancet said.
Lancet said the scenes of suffering in India are hard to comprehend. As of May 4, more than 20.2 million cases of Covid-19 had been reported, with a rolling average of 3,78,000 cases a day, together with more than 2,22,000 deaths, which experts believe are likely to be substantial underestimated, Lancet said.
Underlining the need for a restructure in its response, the editorial said that the success of government’s efforts will depend on its owning up to mistakes, providing responsible leadership and transparency, and implementing a public health response.
“As cases continue to mount, the government must publish accurate data in a timely manner, and forthrightly explain to the public what is happening and what is needed to bend the epidemic curve, including the possibility of a new federal lockdown,” it said.
Thr journal also suggested that India should adopt a two-pronged strategy. It said that the “botched vaccination” campaign must be rationalised and implemented speedily.