Question Time audience member says India in ‘incredible pain’
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But they acknowledged that India must take responsibility for a “pandemic complacency” which turned triumph to disaster in just three short months. More than 18 million people have now been infected in India, with 400,000 new cases recorded yesterday – the world’s highest single-day total. The number of deaths jumped by 3,523, taking the toll to 211,853. In Delhi alone, where 400 died on Thursday, some 600 bodies are now being cremated every day with authorities warning that facilities could no longer cope.
Last week leading virologist Dr Shahid Jameel, director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, said: “Vaccine hesitancy is not an issue now but it was. In the first part of the vaccine drive because we were on a falling daily curve and so at that time there was also a lot of this blood clotting matters that were being raised in the EU. It “was playing on people’s minds.”
And this view was backed by official sources who estimated that vacillations over vaccine safety may have accounted for as much as 20 percent of Indian infections.
“Traditionally, urban Indians have trusted doctors implicitly – their advice is accepted blindly and gratefully,”‘ said the source last night.
“Now for the first time there is a new class of people who are denying vaccines. Where did the word anti-faxing come from? It came from the EU and You-Tube.
“Indians see Van der Leyen going on about sofa-gate instead of actually getting vaccines to her people in the EU – of course this all has a trickle down effect and people get scared.”
The EU is not the only cause, however. Anti-vax messages have also permeated from the US and neighbouring Pakistan, where claims that vaccines contain tracking chips or render men impotent have also resonated in India.
However, “pandemic complacency” also played a big role.
It was only in March that Indian heart minister Harsh Vardhan declared India was “in the endgame of the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that India had emerged as the “world’s pharmacy”, supplying 55.1 million Covid-19 vaccines to 62 different countries.
The source added: “We just didn’t realise a double or triple mutant would hit us in the face because we thought it was over. So we allowed large scale electioneering and campaigning in five states. There is still a large religious gathering on the Ganges.
“And this showed our lack of foresight. We boasted that we were the pharmacy of the world. We supplied vaccines to the world and UK. Now we’re begging for some of them back. This has come back to haunt us.”
The UK’s first delivery of medical supplies, including ventilators and oxygen equipment, landed in Delhi last week, with much more to come.
“This is a disease where, if you don’t help your neighbour, you will get it tomorrow. The UK has shown a lot of countries the path out of darkness,“ added the source.
“Britain’s example persuaded Biden to help too. Of course we need more. It’s like trying to fill a bottomless pit. “
Help is coming from unofficial channels, too.
Indians living in Britain have raised an astonishing £350,000 in donations and medical supplies in less than two weeks as they scramble to help the motherland.
This has largely been channeled through three groups: the Sewa UK which has sent Oxygen, thousands of Covid specimen bags and emergency medical equipment to the state of Maharashtra, which contains Mumbai where they established a medical centre; Indians in London (IIL) which are supplying oxygen cylinders and concentrators and the National Council of Hindu Temples UK which is donating money to Modi’s ‘PM Cares’ fund.
“It has been a remarkable achievement for the diaspora here, and it is still going strong, ” said Overseas Friends of BJP UK president Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat.
Yesterday a doctor, Sohil Makwana of GMERS Medical College in Gujarat, posted two images of himself, one in PPE and another of him soaked in sweat, to show the pressure staff are under.
He said he was “proud to serve the nation” and urged people to get vaccinated, explaining: “It’s the only solution! Stay safe.”
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