“The situation in India is beyond heartbreaking”
The World Health Organization (WHO) says India’s deadly COVID-19 second wave was caused by a “perfect storm” of mass gatherings, low vaccination rates and more contagious variants.
In mid-April in Haridwar, an Indian temple town that hosts the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival that is the world’s biggest religious gathering, between one and three million people came together to take a ritual dip in the Ganges.
At the same time, many Muslims were celebrating Ramadan with their friends and families. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also encouraging massive election rallies after declaring the pandemic had reached its “endgame” in March.
WHO says this “complacent behaviour”, allowing mass gatherings after a relatively successful management of the COVID first wave, had played a major role in the devastating second wave.
India has been hit by a highly infectious variant of COVID-19, the so-called “double mutation” or B1617 variant, and it also has weak health infrastructure.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “The situation in India is beyond heartbreaking.”
India’s catastrophe has had dire consequences for other poor countries. The world’s biggest producer of vaccines, the Serum Institute of India was supposed to supply doses to developing nations, especially in Africa.
But the export of doses dropped precipitously in April when it shipped 1.2 million doses abroad compared with 64 million in the previous three months.