Says, ‘Government has seemed more intent on removing criticism on Twitter than trying to control the pandemic.’
NRI Affairs Correspondent
The Lancet, among the world’s most reputed medical journals, has slammed the Narendra Modi government for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a scathing editorial, it said that the government was giving the impression of being more occupied with “removing criticism on Twitter than trying to control the pandemic”.
“Hospitals are overwhelmed, and health workers are exhausted and becoming infected. Social media is full of desperate people (doctors and the public) seeking medical oxygen, hospital beds, and other necessities. Yet before the second wave of cases of COVID-19 began to mount in early March, Indian Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan declared that India was in the “endgame” of the epidemic.”, the editorial said.
“The impression from the government was that India had beaten COVID-19 after several months of low case counts, despite repeated warnings of the dangers of a second wave and the emergence of new strains. Modelling suggested falsely that India had reached herd immunity, encouraging complacency and insufficient preparation, but a serosurvey by the Indian Council of Medical Research in January suggested that only 21% of the population had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2,” the editorial added.
The journal also criticised the government’s decision – despite warnings – to allow religious and political congregations, adding that these events are “conspicuous for their lack of COVID-19 mitigation measures”.
“The message that COVID-19 was essentially over also slowed the start of India’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, which has vaccinated less than 2% of the population. At the federal level, India’s vaccination plan soon fell apart. The government abruptly shifted course without discussing the change in policy with states, expanding vaccination to everyone older than 18 years, draining supplies, and creating mass confusion and a market for vaccine doses in which states and hospital systems competed.”, the editorial added.