The publication called Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government response “inexcusable”.
India is currently in the midst of the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreak. It reported an additional 403,738 cases on Sunday, marking the fourth day in a row it has recorded more than 400,000 cases and bringing the total number of reported infections in the country to more than 22 million.
More than 900,000 Covid-19 patients in India are on oxygen – about a quarter of all active cases – and another 170,000 are on ventilators, the country’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday. India has a test positivity rate of around 22%, according to Johns Hopkins University, which means it probably does not capture all cases of Covid-19.
The health ministry also reported 4,092 more deaths on Sunday, the second consecutive time the country has recorded more than 4,000 deaths in a single day.
“If this outcome were to happen, the government of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi would be responsible for presiding over a self-inflicted national catastrophe,” the Lancet editorial warned.
Actions « inexcusables »
According to the Lancet editorial, India “wasted its early successes” by controlling Covid-19.
The government failed in giving the public the the impression that the country had conquered the virus, which encouraged complacency and insufficient preparation, and slowed the start of the country’s “botched” vaccination campaign, according to the editorial. Despite warnings about “the risk of mass-market events,” religious festivals and political rallies have been allowed to take place.
And on top of that, the government has attempted to control critical discussions online, asking Twitter to delete tweets about Covid-19, including some that criticized Modi.
“Modi’s actions in trying to stifle criticism and open discussion during the crisis are inexcusable,” the editorial said.
The editorial urged India to increase vaccine supply and work to create a fair vaccine distribution system. Saturday night local time 35 million people in India had received their second dose, which means about 2.7% of India’s 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated, according to a press release from the Ministry of Health.
He also urged India to release accurate data, expand genomic testing and educate the public on the need to wear masks, social distancing, stopping mass gatherings, voluntary quarantine and testing. .
The editorial noted that until April, the government’s Covid-19 task force had not met for months.
“The consequences of this decision are clear before us, and India must now restructure its response as the crisis rages,” the editorial said. “The success of this effort will depend on government acknowledging its mistakes, ensuring responsible leadership and transparency, and implementing a public health response that has science at heart. “
CNN has previously contacted the chairman of the Covid-19 task force, VK Paul, for comment.
As hospitals grapple with desperate oxygen shortages, India’s highest court has established a 12-member national task force to assess the availability and distribution of medical oxygen, according to a court order issued on Saturday.
Hospitals across India have reported desperate oxygen shortages despite dozens of countries pledging critical aid. Last week, the Indian government said it had installed a “simplified mechanism” for allocating aid, but state and local authorities said they had been kept in the dark.
The task force has been set up to provide input and strategies to the central government to address the challenges of the pandemic, according to a court order issued on Saturday.
“The rationale for forming a national-level working group is to facilitate a public health response to the pandemic based on scientific and expert knowledge in the field,” the order said, adding that he was expecting leading experts. “This will facilitate a meeting of minds and the formulation of scientific strategies to face an unprecedented human crisis. “
Members include senior health professionals, academics and government officials.
On the basis of the order, the mandate is to “assess and make recommendations for the whole country according to the need, availability and distribution of medical oxygen” as well as to determine the quantity of oxygen. medical to be allocated to the States and the union. territories on a “scientific, rational and equitable basis”.
CNN’s Jake Kwon in Seoul and Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong contributed to this report.