Indian Confusions on Covid19 and the International Secrecies
There seems to be unending mysteries over Covid-19 pandemic. Right from the day the disease surfaced in Wuhan China, it is shrouded under many confusions and secrecies. There are some which is at the international level with some beyond one’s control. However, the confusions created within India are mostly artificial, fabricated, to score political mileage by the opposition political parties over Modi govt who has managed the massive pandemic with reasonable success…barring the second wave of the Covid that surprised everyone. Just to reiterate that the ‘health’ is a State Govt matter, the union govt at best, allocates additional funds and some other legitimate assistance when sought after. The opposition have seldom wasted any opportunity in pinning the union govt.
As if the Covid was not enough of problem, the Chinese revealed their expansionist design on the northern frontiers. They tried to scare the Modi govt by Pakistani troops mobilisation on the Western front too. Indian national Congress, a possibly in allegiance with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), always tries to prick and humiliate the Modi govt…all through the Chinese escalation. As if that was not enough, Congress and Communists of India have acquired the identity of the Villains of India. They incited the Farmer’s ‘blood-sucking middlemen’ to go on protest at Delhi borders for over 6 months now. They also seem to have Khalistani and Pak ISI elements in it who created havoc on 26 January in NCT, desecrating the ‘Tricolour’ at the ramparts of the Red Fort. It is Modi govt’s own finger trouble, a sheer mishandling of a highly beneficial Farm Bills by the agriculture minister NS Tomar. Any other PM would have removed him. This protest has somehow made the Sikh community bit unhappy who are identifying themselves with the protesters. Following Bengal elections, TMC goons and Muslims have been committing heinous crimes on BJP cadre. Another type of Communal politics is unfolding by the Christians in Telangana through serial attacks on temples and Hindu. BJP has also had major reversals at the Zila Panchayat elections in UP and Punjab. The economy that had shown recovery trends in Jan-Feb 21, has again dipped following the 2nd wave of Covid. Hence, there has been many types of pressures on the Modi govt in the last 1 year or so. Many experts feel that the various issues handled by Modi 0.2 has been far from being satisfactory primarily due to incompetence of his cabinet ministers. Why he has been carrying on with such burdens, is incomprehensible esp when several bright personalities are available as alternative.
Confusion on Covid19
Within India, the confusion has been right from the days the first case surfaced out in a subject arriving Kerala from Wuhan. It could be understood that not much information of the virus was available those days in the public domain hence, most of the nations had to formulate their own approaches…corrected from time to time. There was confusion on preventing the gatherings, of contact tracing, of notifying through an App (Arogya Setu) on which the Muslims of the nation will not endorse. Of course a huge national embarrassment was avoided by addressing all Covid-19 pandemic related actions through a timely set-up central Covid Task Force directly under PMO. However, we had plenty of confusion masters in India, led by the opposition parties who could question every decision of the task force and try to embarrass the govt on every issues…the lock down, the strategies to Civid-19 management, the vaccine policiesand so on. The Govt too was not clear on many of the issues, of which, the handling of the migrants’ issuesduring lockdown came in for sharp criticism and justifiably so. The next confusion was govt’s approach on the super spreader events. Another issue surfaced out, was the State Govt trying to pass the buck of ‘Health related issues’ on to the Centre. Last but not the least, has been the Task Force’s translucent policies on the vaccinationas well as the Covid management.
‘The confusion maker-in-Chief’ has been Mr Rahul Gandhi, the uncrowned president of Congress party. The other has been Mr Arvind Khejriwal, hogs the limelight by virtue of being CM of the NCR with plenty of lies and disinformation. He is also known to many as ‘Pappu-in-making’ with a difference…that he is the only ignorant CM despite being IIT graduate. The other one has the right to be indulgent.
Rahul Gandhi wrote a bible, quran, avesta or gita of sorts…when he twitted a few holy words that all Congis consider as eternal. Possibly an angel descended from heaven and muttered these eternal words in to his ears that he twitted, that became a light to the world under darkness…and thereafter, he has been adding the eternal verses of tweets …on numerous issues…against Covid task force decisions…the lockdown…the unlock…the free rations & DBT cash to poor under lockdown…the EUA for vaccines by the apex regulator body, the DCGI…and his tweets continue…as eternal verses for his followers. Ask any of the Congi CMs, their Gen Secys, their spokespersons…for them these words are nothing less than holy scriptures.
It was of course inconsequential that the Govt of India had asked its 7 international airports on 23 Jan 20 to start screening everyone arriving from Beijing and despite that, the first Covid case occurred in Kerala on 30 Jan 20. Union govt had put huge Covid screening units at all international airports when Indians were evacuated from Wuhan on 01 & 02 Feb 20 and later from a cruise ship off Japan coast.
While the Indian govt tried to put a robust screening measure at the ports & airports, people like Ms Korona (Kanika) Kapur, Maulana Saad & the Jamat… were in plenty to give a miss. Our own people played a cat & mouse game with immigration staff, Health Workers and the police as well.
Covid First Phase
A relatively unknown pandemic stricking India where the health infrastructure has been neglected since independence, more or less by all successive govts. It was first the Bajpayee govt who tried to augment the number of the AIIMSs by four. But it was Modi govt who went for the first overhauling of the health sector…firstly by augmenting the AIIMSs from 7 to 23 and secondly by upgrading the dilapidated peripheral health infrastructures by bringing it in to Ayushman Bharat folds. However, when Covid struck India in March 2020, an auditing of the infra by the Covid Task Force revealed that there were just about 25000 Hospital beds which needed to be augmented to nearly 1,5 lack within a short time expecting the 1st wave. They did it…Hospital numbers, Hosp beds, ICU beds, Ventilator beds; Augmenting the production of the Covid Drugs, Covid testing kits, PPEs, Masks, Gloves, Ventilators, Oxygen Concentrators, Pulse Oximeters and all other ancillary equipment.
By the time the cases started rising at alarming rate, barring some aberrations, the nation was ready to fight the first wave of Covid19 challenges…much better than many other nations. The Doctors, Nurses and other health workers rose to the occasion on the PM’s call. Many doctors / nurses could not meet their kins for weeks and months. That was their dedication. Even our opposition politicians were not far behind…in their own game of trying to embarrass the govt on every move to acknowledge the doctor’s contribution. Doctors and health workers will never forget the award of their services by our Muslim Countrymen/women…by stone pelting, brick bating, chasing them off, beating them mercilessly and one-odd losing life too. What a memorable return for the service of humanity…and some political parties were hand-in-gloves with those perpetrators.
Finally, the 1st phase of Covid19 was managed well. No sooner the first Covid vaccine Pfizer was approved in UK for EUA on 02 Dec 20, Russia pressed forward with Sputnik V for mass vaccination. Pfizer got FDI approval for EUA on 11 Dec 20 and Moderna on 18 Dec 20. Indian Vaccine manufacturers too started the process for approval in Dec 20. Both Serum Institute of India (SII) Pune and Bharat Biotech (BBT) Hyderabad applied to the DCGI (at Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, New Delhi) on 6-7 Dec 20 and obtained the EUA on 01 Jan 21. Opposition political party played hell with the BBT EUA, tarnishing the image and competence of DCGI…just as they had done it for the CJI, CEC or CVC earlier.
Covid19 Second Phase Storm
All state govts miserably failed in foreseeing the massive 2nd wave and raised their hands lumping on to the union govt…the oxygen shortage (and hoarding by Congress), the essential Covid drug shortage (and hoarding by some). Oxygen shortage was especially worrying as the demand rose from the usual 7000 tons to nearly 27000 tons…a rise by ~4 folds within days. No nation could have met this 4-fold demand, by whatever means. Union Govts response was very swift. They did a quick audit of Oxygen being produced in the country and pooled the entire resources…of medical and industrial oxygen as advised by the experts. Transporting the Oxygen started at war footing. Liquid Oxygen (LOX) Tankers procured from abroad, positioning at the various LOX generation plants and transporting to the places of acute shortages…through IAF heavy lift aircraft, fast-track Oxygen express trains and the last mile by road to the end users. Despite the negative attitude of the political opponents in those testing times, most of the friendly nations rose to the occasion…firmly with the govt in trying to make it available.
Since the state govts did not augment the makeshift hospital beds, Modi Govt moved rapidly. DRDO, Indian Army, Paramilitary Forces besides many others were requested to help and none disappointed. No doubt there were sheer helplessness for the Covid patients for the lack of hospital beds, it was beyond anyone’s control as the number of the Covid cases increased like explosion…from ~50K on 30 March to ~100K on 6th Apr…to ~200K on 15 Apr…to ~300K on 21 Apr…to ~400K on 30 Apr 20. It was simply unmanageable on any account. No Hosp infra can be stretched by 800% in a month. No one can do it. Hence, it did take time. By 15 May, all hospitals were ready with trickling Oxygen through the above measures. A total of 5383 Oxygen Concentrators, 16 Oxygen generation plant, 10,717 Oxygen cylinders, 95 Oxygen Containers along with other aids arrived over short period of time. No sooner the plane carrying the aid landed, officials were ready with distribution list to various states & cities through another aircraft, train or road. They worked 24x7 to dispatch all aids. It was the other matter that some of the states did not bother to use them over weeks. As and when any of these essential provisions and equipment were found under-utilised, it was taken up to shift to the area where the Covid19 cases are rising.
Our opposition politicians too were on job 24x7 trying to point fingers, put allegation and so on. The noise created on the TV media was deafening. They too must be having a definite sense of satisfaction that they extended no help and left no stone unturned to tarnish the image of Modi Govt. Congress party is understood to have created a toolkit at behest of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi…suggesting various means of tarnishing the image of Modi govt and India both within and abroad. However, the most damning narrative the opposition CMs could create, was that GOI was not sensitive to the dying youth in the 2nd wave, by not removing the 18+ yrs age bar from vaccination. With the on-going electioneering in the 5 states, the union govt just gave in, knowing fully well that the production was limited.
The Covid19 Vaccine Controversy
While most of the confusions created by the various gangs have largely been highlighted / deliberated sometime or the other in the past, the present ‘Vaccine Controversy’ needs elaboration. A budding Pappu, Mr Sisodia struck a flutter on 24 May 21 when he said “while all nations in the world were placing vaccine demand on Pfizer, Moderna, J&J in March 2020 itself, Indian Govt was sleeping”. He clearly lied. No govt having own vaccine R&D forwarded even EOI in the initial stages, with India included. UK was an exception to have placed demand in Dec 20 after Pfizer was approved for EUA essentially because of two reasons… of having the second wave Covid and their Oxford-Astra facing
some reversals in the ongoing trials.
Mr Sisodia was obviously misleading…essentially his own constituency. A DyCM is expected to know basic ethics…” Don’t lie…” but he may not understand it. He has learnt falsehood from his master…’the chameleon’as some social media term the CM…who always tried to break union govt’s hold on vaccination. This professor of confusion had been pressing to remove the age-related priority for vaccination. Way back from 18 March 21 onwards, he has been asking centre to remove age bar, saying he will manage to vaccinate all Delhiits within 3 months. He did not stop there, continued making request to the PM to remove age restriction. On 06 Apr he roped-in other opposition ruled state CMs too…with just one request…remove the age bar. Opposition CMs went a step further making a new narrative in the already noisy election season in the 5 states that GOI was not sensitive to the youth dying with Covid19 of the second wave. GOI had been reluctant all through due to the vaccine availability issues but when new narrative started doing round, with the States insisting that they would manage, the union govt gave-in. It removed the 18+ yrs age bar from vaccination to be effective from 01 May 21. The States were made free to procure vaccines from their 50% share from any of the Indian manufacturers. Union government also relaxed the regulatory norms and cleared the direct acquisition / import by the States from foreign manufacturers/suppliers if it were approved by WHO, US’s FDI & EMA, UK’s MHRA and Indian DCGI. Within this parameters the 3 US vaccine candidates (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson), UK’s Oxford-AZ, Russian Sputnik V and Chinese Sinopharma would qualify for import. It clearly shows that Mr Khejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia has been spreading lies on TV channels that Modi govt is not allowing foreign company vaccines import to India.
Arvind Khejriwal tried to procure from US but none were ready to commit the supply within 6 months in their invoice. It is also understood that he had trust deficit with the American private vaccine manufacturers unwilling to deal with his govt. Now he wants Modi govt to procure vaccines for him.
All opposition ruled state CMs are playing politics. They have been clearly told that the nation will be supplied about 300 Cr dosage of the vaccine staggered till this year end. It is already known outside suppliers are heavily booked and unable to meet even their Covax obligation to the WHO. Hence panicking now and trying to prove a point as to why India did not place order on them last year, serves absolutely no purpose. All these CMs have been party to the govt approach on vaccination all through, at various levels incl CM’s meet with the PM (except Mr Khejriwal trying to have his own way for Delhi). The team of experts had decided the Atmnirbhar plan of vaccination and they should continue now. The need is to pursue through the ‘priority age groups of vulnerability’ and aim to achieve the desired vaccination by the year end. As such, no outsider firm will supply before that. Hence, they must calm down and create no further confusion in the systematic way the govt had planned. It is likely that by August 2021, Hyderabad based Biological E (presently undergoing Ph-3 trials) could also be accorded EUA. This manufacturer has huge potential of manufacturing 30 Cr dosage every month.
Secrecy on Covid19…Its break-out in Wuhan, the source, spread and the pandemic?
The Virus nCoV2 is believed to have been modified in a lab and did not exist in nature in this virulent form. There were many pointers to this effect when the disease broke out in Wuhan. The Chinese were able to muzzle all such voices that tried to suggest its possible origin, erase all such evidences over a year’s time that Dr Tedros DG, WHO provided to the Chinese, before a team of experts could be sent for investigating the source of virus (at Beijing’s approval). What were the understanding between Dr Tedros and Xi Ping that investigation promised within a month in Jan 2020 took more than a year? Secrecy shrouded as to why the WHO Chairman Dr Harshvardhan did not take the investigation in to his own hand if Tedros was dragging it with tacit understanding (for whatever reasons).
Secrecy on the virus must be unfolded if there are pointers of it being developed as a Bio-Warfare agent for the Chinese Army. Secrecy in its handling by the top Chinese leadership can be understood. Secrecy of the details not being provided by the Chinese to the WHO could be understood if Bio-warfare angle was there. The way the Chinese administration reacted every time it was called a Wuhan Virus or Chinese virus, points out to their unease. Secrecy in keeping the Wuhan Virus Lab out of the reach of the investigating team also shows that they were trying to hide something. Secrecy shrouds in Chinese attempts of erasing all those experiments on the natural Bat Virus in the Wuhan P-4 Virus lab directly under the famous ‘Bat Woman’ Ms Zheng Li. Secrecy shrouds in the way an intern of the lab revealed how the virus found access to the outside of lab accidentally. Secrecy in the way how RT-PCR test kits were made commercially available in Chinese Hospitals on 16 Jan 20 after the nCoV2 virus was first isolated on 09 Jan 20. Secrecy in the recent two statements by eminent figures that Corona virus was expected to be a Chinese Bio warfare agent in 2015 and that some workers of the Wuhan lab had suffered from Covid much before it came in to the light. Magazine “Outlook” in its 26 Jan 20 had published of possible warfare being developed there. Hence, there are plethora of secrecies which is failing to die down.In the various issues of this magazine, various aspects of the secrecies have been dealt with in this magazine right from March 2020 (‘The Counterviews’ Issues 2:06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 3:01, 02, 05).
In order to summarise the Indian Covid19 challenges, it could be said with fair confidence that while the Modi govt has tried to manage it to their best of abilities, there were events that did create repeated confusions. Many of these could be seen as faltering only in the hindsight. The second wave of the Covid took everyone by surprise. The extent of the pandemic was such that no govt could have managed. This however, does not absolve either the State Govts (under whom is the public Health) or the Union Govt (who are supposed to be coordinating with them for better response) from the culpability. While the populace in general stood by the honesty that Modi govt displayed in meeting various challenges on several fronts simultaneously, the opposition politicians esp the Congress & Communists, left no stone unturned in maligning the govt. The secrecies in the outbreak of Covid19 is only unfolding now, with a clear trend in understanding that this Virus in all probabilities, is not natural but modified in Wuhan Lab.