India is currently suffering record breaking levels of new Covid infections, as the lethal virus spreads like wildfire through the population. Government officials reported a staggering 314,835 new cases on Thursday for the preceding 24 hours. The unprecedented spread of the virus is being driven by a more contagious variant which has a double mutation in the spike protein.
Hospitals have been inundated with severely ill patients and are barely able to cope with the influx, as the country’s health system teeters on the brink of collapse.
Dr Bhavna Pandya told Kirsty Wark on BBC’s Newsnight on Thursday that for weeks people in India had been in denial about the very existence of the virus.
On a recent visit to the country, she was told by family and friends that there was no Covid problem in the country.
The Chair of the Medical Committee at the Hindu Forum Britain recounted: “When I visited India not long ago, I asked my family members and friends ‘Why have you not taken your vaccine jab?’, they said there is no Covid.
“I went to Gujarat and they said there is no need (to take a vaccine) – Covid has gone for good.
“So probably it was the wrong perception of people, they just weren’t taking any vaccine.
“Even when there was enough supply, people weren’t queuing up for vaccines and still there are so many of them – they don’t think they should take the vaccine like we have.”
Dr Pandya also pointed to the problems posed by deliberate disinformation campaigns in hampering health officials to fight the new wave.
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Indian politician, Saurabh Bharadwaj, who is being treated in a Delhi hospital for Covid, posted a plea for help in Hindi on Twitter, saying there were just three hours of oxygen left where he was.
“A lot of people are dependant on oxygen and without oxygen, these people will die just like fish die in the absence of water,” he said.
“This is a time for all to come together to work.”