How has it gone so badly wrong for India?
- Saturday, May 1, 2021
On 23rd April India reported 332,730 new cases of Covid infection and a record 2,263 deaths. Hospitals are forced to stop admissions due to chronic oxygen shortages. Hospitals with desperately ill patients simply ran out of oxygen and had to resort to manual ventilation to keep people alive. This same pressure at the entrances to hospitals is happening at crematoriums.
How has it gone so badly wrong for India having done so well to first control the virus and start vaccination programmes for the world most populated country?
In early March India Health Minister Harsh Vardham declared that India was ’in the endgame’ of Covid. India was exporting vaccines and helping neighbouring countries like Bhutan to full inoculation. With falling new infection rates to under 11,000 per day and death rates of under 100, India thought it had beaten the disease.
At the end of March elections took place in India in five states with 186m eligible voters. Political campaigning and mass rallies were allowed without safety protocols on social distancing or the use of face masks. Religious gatherings and festivals were also allowed with the now inevitable consequences. In March India played England in two cricket tests in front of a packed 130,000-seater stadium in Gujarat.
While the R rate soared, election campaigning continued along with religious gatherings. The over optimism of early success against the virus led to complacency among the people and authorities.
Within a month the country was in the grip of a massive second wave. By the second week of April the daily infection case count was over 100,000 per day and 1600 people lost their lives. Hospitals were overwhelmed and vaccines were being traded on the black market. These daily figures are now three times higher.
The much-praised Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest viral producer confirmed it could not match demand. India placed an export ban on the Astra Zeneca vaccine being exported from the country. The USA is sending 60m doses to India over the next few weeks.
Like the rest of India, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai are now in lockdown and the country is in the red zone travel list.
Not surprisingly the Indian stock market has been falling over recent weeks. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex Index stood at 50,296 on 1st March and on the 26th April was 47,878 a fall of -4.8%. Given the crisis the country is facing this is a modest fall.
Chris DaviesChartered Financial Adviser
Chris is a Chartered Independent Financial Adviser and leads the investment team.