The Rapid Covid Surge in India

Georgia Callahan
Foreign Policy

As most of the modern world approaches a new, stable normal after lockdowns, social distancing, and masks, India is experiencing the worst phase of their Covid-19 journey. The Covid-19 cases in India quickly outpaced other nations in the recent months. Most countries saw the very gruesome impacts of Covid-19 in 2020; however India, on the other hand, has a serious Covid-19 situation to combat in 2021. The exact reason for this difference is unknown. Potential causes for this crisis include underdeveloped health literacy, a new virus variant, poor government leadership, short supply of medical equipment, and low vaccination rates. Foreseeable solutions include vaccine donations, economic aid and an international organization to provide health education. These solutions would need to be applied quickly and efficiently in order to lift India from its current state. 

According to the New York Times’ page titled ‘Tracking Coronavirus in India: Latest Map and Case Count’, India’s initial Covid-19 numbers began at 20 cases per day on March 14th, 2020 and cases remained that low for an impressive stretch of time. Until March 22nd, 2021 India’s Covid-19 numbers had remained small and steady, with the exception of only one major peak. In comparison, the United States reported around 26,000 new cases on average, per day on June 20th, 2020, whereas India reported nearly 13,000 new cases on average, per day on the same day. The drastic difference today from those statistics is the severity of India’s spikes. As of recently, India is amidst the largest Covid-19 spike it’s ever witnessed. Many first world countries are making vaccines accessible, therefore causing their cases to decline. Unfortunately, India disclosed around 390,000 new cases on average per day in May 2021; however, officials state that India’s actual Covid-19 cases are most likely higher than reported. As a result, select scientists suggest that a third spike is inevitable. To prevent this third spike, the crucial next step for India is to determine the cause of this tragedy and initiate solutions. 

India enforced a very strict lockdown at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. As these strict, government required restrictions were lifted in spring of 2021, mass religious and political gatherings attracted millions. According to The complex causes of India's 2021 COVID-19 surge, written by Aayush Visaria and Tina Dharamdasani, the country’s health literacy plays an enormous role in Covid-19 outbreaks. A rational and supportive health literacy educates citizens on sickness and well being in order to manage the spread of germs and diseases. An example of poor health literacy is when Indian citizens and government officials considered the Kumbh Mela festival to be of more religious importance than containing Covid-19. After vaccinated individuals in India contracted Covid-19, government officials speculated if a new variant of the virus could be the cause of the massive spike in cases in May. According to “What to Know About India’s Coronavirus Crisis'' written in the New York Times, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, hosted political rallies attended by maskless supporters. He himself did not travel with a mask and took these actions to boost his political momentum and give the Indian public the hopeful feeling of moving forward. Modi’s refusal to let his Covid-19 task force meet for months and poor leadership on public health could be another viable cause to the second major Covid-19 spike in India.

In addition, potential pressing causes of India’s dire Covid-19 situation are the short supply of medical equipment and vaccines. Due to a shortage in hospital beds, protective equipment, oxygen, and medicines, individuals who contract Covid-19 may face a painful, and even fatal experience. India had originally focused its vaccine production on exports; however, since supplies dropped, India’s vaccine exports failed to reach their goal and left their own citizens without enough vaccines.

Quick thinking and feasible solutions are the best option to combat India’s massive second spike of Covid-19, as of May 2021. Without global attention, scientists suggest that India will face a third tragic spike of Covid-19 cases, each spike restricting the county’s future growth and claiming the lives of thousands of Indian civilians. As many other developed countries vaccinate their citizens for Covid-19, the production may outgrow the demand. Therefore, these countries purchasing a surplus of vaccines could donate and distribute the Covid-19 vaccines in India. Without the financial burden of vaccinating its citizens, India could increase the amount of people vaccinated. In addition, education would naturally raise the numbers of Indians vaccinated. Leadership from beyond India’s Prime Minister would go a long way in promoting better health literacy and stopping the increase in infections of Covid-19. Another potential solution would be economic aid and stimulation from other countries. In all cases, Covid-19 has significantly hurt India’s economy. Receiving promotion and support from allied and neighboring countries would go a long way, giving India a financial boost large enough in order to combat and recover from the pandemic.

The second Covid-19 spike comes at an uncommon time when most countries are updating their new normal and have the virus seemingly under control. This shocking timeline reveals serious issues in how India is going forward with Covid-19 precautions in 2021. The difference in India’s Covid-19 experience is not officially determined. However, quick solutions are crucial to save India from further destruction of their economy and their citizens’ health.

Georgia Callahan

Georgia Callahan is a college senior at Clemson University. Georgia will graduate in December 2021 with a political science degree and a minor in history. She has been intrigued by politics and National government since high school. Georgia hopes to gain experience and start a career in the political field soon after graduation.