A hellish second wave of COVID-19 took India’s government completely by surprise. The three lakh per day new cases are now seeing some reprieve, but experts warn that these numbers mask the spread of COVID-19 in rural areas and the number of deaths that have clearly been undercounted across many parts of the country.
Unfortunately, the biggest failing has been a dysfunctional vaccine strategy. The Wire spoke with Professor Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD). Hotez described the situation in India as tragic and a health crisis that will plague India for years to come. He described the second wave as a watershed tragedy that the government must treat as a “homeland security” crisis.
Hotez described the Indian government’s decision to place a ban on vaccine exports as unfortunate but also pointed out that it was unfair and implausible for the world to have depended only on a few vaccine manufacturers to produce COVID-19 vaccines. He said there would be a domino effect of India falling short of vaccines and it was critical that a coherent Universal Vaccine Policy was formulated at an international level.
The dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine also highlighted the dangerous ramifications of rampant misinformation that was being spread about vaccines and exacerbating vaccine hesitancy.