India: COVID-19 deaths could reach 1 million by August: Lancet

India: COVID-19 deaths could reach 1 million by August: Lancet

COVID-19 deaths in India could potentially reach a ‘staggering’ one million by August 1 of this year, an editorial in the medical journal The Lancet said citing an estimate from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation – an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.
“The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that India will experience a staggering 1 million deaths from COVID-19 by August 1. [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s government would be tasked with presiding over a self-inflicted national disaster, ”he said.

India’s Ministry of Health on Sunday reported 4,092 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 242,362. New cases rose to 403,738, just below the record and bringing the total since start of the pandemic at 22.3 million. India has recorded 10 million cases in the past four months.

New Delhi has struggled to contain the epidemic, which has overwhelmed its healthcare system, and many experts suspect that the official number of deaths and cases is a gross underestimate.

The newspaper said the government’s COVID-19 task force had not met for months until April – when the virus rose.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that a government-set up forum of science advisers warned Indian officials in early March of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country. Four of the scientists told Reuters the federal government was not looking to impose major restrictions to stop the spread of the virus despite their warnings.

The government allowed millions of people to participate in Hindu religious festivals while Prime Minister Modi, ruling party leader Bharatiya Janata (BJP) and opposition politicians organized political rallies for the regional elections. These events, according to experts, turned out to be “super-spreaders”.

The editorial called on the Indian government to adopt a “two-pronged” strategy to tackle the epidemic by ramping up vaccination nationwide and reducing transmission of the deadly virus.

“The success of this effort will depend on government recognition of its mistakes, responsible leadership and transparency, and implementing a public health response that has science at its heart,” a- he declared.

‘More transparency’

The medical journal said Modi’s attempts to stifle criticism were “inexcusable.” “At times Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has seemed more determined to suppress criticism on Twitter than to try to control the pandemic.”

India has been hit hard by a second wave of COVID-19 with cases and deaths reaching record levels every two days. With a severe shortage of oxygen and beds in many hospitals, and overflowing morgues and crematoriums, experts say the actual number of COVID-19 cases and deaths could be much higher in the country.

The chief scientist of the World Health Organization told AFP news agency on Saturday that the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, first detected in India last October, was clearly a contributing factor to the disaster unfolding in the second most populous country in the world. .

“There have been a lot of accelerators that have been introduced into this,” said Soumya Swaminathan, 62, adding that the new variant may bypass vaccine protections.

Many Indian states have imposed strict lockdowns over the past month, with the capital New Delhi extending it on Sunday, to stem the spike in infections while others have announced restrictions on public movement and closed cinemas, restaurants , pubs and shopping centers.

Pressure is mounting on Modi to announce a national lockdown similar to that imposed in the first wave last year.

Support is pouring in from around the world in the form of oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and other medical equipment for overwhelmed hospitals.


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