The second coming of the Corona virus as the angry, double-mutant.

V S Prativadi
6 min readJun 11, 2021

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The world could have been forgiven to think that Corona was finally check mated with the first four countries coming up with vaccines in record time. That US, UK, Russia would be at the forefront would be anyone’s guess. Along with India to keep the august company was truly unexpected.

The pharmacy of the world: India lived up to its reputation of being home to global standard pharmaceutical factories churning out generic medicines that routinely get baptised the world over, as known native drugs in their regions. Also in the race to produce the vaccine, was the cornered nation of China, the land that gave birth to the Corona virus and its mutating cousins. Not to mention the fact, that with everything controlled by the closeted communist government there, be it the data or the casualty or even the detective stories of the origins of the virus, nothing could be taken at face value.

What almost looked as the last lap in the victory against the raging virus which looked like past its prime, there was an uneasy lull. While Governments like US were hoarding vaccines for its citizens, Europe was recovering from the savage effects the virus had on its seniors. India did well to control the damage from the first wave, but the second one came with a vengeance to spread to the community.

The least expected country called India was offering a choice of vaccine to it senior citizens in the first wave, even when many, including its citizens, doubted the efficacy as the country did not have the label of a developed country :) The leadership also got the tag of best handling by US agency Morning Consult.

Database for over a billion citizens: Yet, Indian authorities were not taking no for an answer. A whole database with a billion names was up in no time, and you could download an app, choose your hospital for a visit to get vaccinated with the vaccine of your choice, download a certificate of vaccination before you even left the hospital! Further, India also took millions of doses to over 95 countries around the world, some donated and some as business orders. It was able to do so with the Government carefully planning the vaccination program for a billion Indians stretched over a period of time. Indian industry supported with many related services and products from PPE suits manufacturing units to various healthcare delivery mechanisms.

Double-mutation and double-trouble: 2021, however, turned out to be different. But then, an upset virus in its double-mutated, deadlier form struck a second time without warning. At least three regions in India were affected badly taking the administration by surprise. It not only chanced upon the unsuspecting citizens who thought that the worst was over, but gave fuel to the critics of the nation and its leadership. Suddenly, the doubters of the vaccine cried hoarse that millions of doses were given away. In parallel, elections in India, almost a festival, were held in five states along with a major festival in one state where thousands congregated.

Silently, the big pharmaceutical giants played the watching game not sure whether to ramp up or share the vaccine formula even in the middle of a pandemic. Luckily, the ones already vaccinated with one dose in India, would now suffer only a mild health issue and recover even if exposed to the virus, putting the story of efficacy doubts of the Indian-made vaccine behind.

While other parts of the world had already seen a second wave, it was hard on India. This time around, it attacked the middle aged people, sometimes even younger, with a reputation of attacking the lungs quickly. The result: people started reporting dropping oxygen saturation levels and had to be rushed to hospitals overnight. In a handful of cities, Healthcare was stretched to the maximum, with hospitals brimming over, ICU beds in more demand than available, and a mad rush for medicines that could keep the lung protected. This time around, more citizens stayed indoors, as they were advised that this lighter, murkier strain could fly with air.

Oxygen was the magic word, also the most wanted. So was the vaccine, the supply of which suddenly became a mystery. What happened to the streamlined production suddenly? Who was buying or using up the available vaccines? Was the demand supply ratio now overwhelming or was it a story of misplaced calculations. But so was the case the world over for any country which faced the second wave. Yet, India was cornered with powerful anti-government rhetoric going on overdrive.

Government and citizens formed groups that made sure that healthcare demands amplified and access trickled to the last social media group. Ordinary citizens, got together and started localised care for supplies to keep the positivity upbeat. Many got help in time even from strangers, while many, sadly, had to give up.

Lockdown in a country 4 times the size of USA: Along the way, there was a tsunami of discussions around the second wave and the status of India from the medicine provider to a country stretching to care for its own became the new headline. Pictures of funeral pyres, the Indian Hindu way to cremate, became viral even before they turned to ash. Sometimes, mercilessly, also available on stock photography domains for sale with special prices and even special offers. This kind of self-trolling with patients and medical pictures is not allowed in the US as per the HIPAA privacy law, but in India it’s democracy at work to belittle ourselves as the outspoken few have powerful voices. Such was the news value of how the ‘provider’ India had turned into ‘puzzled’ India. Yes, thousands of citizens were dead, but slowly and surely the Government got the situation under control, while, after many glitches, opening up vaccinations for the younger population of 18 and above as well. An over-worked healthcare, sanitary, security, private and government network is making it all happen.

The unsympathetic patent proposition: While friends of India obliged with oxygen concentrators, the world was kept waiting by the big multinational pharmaceutical giants who had the patents to the vaccine. While India was busy trying to ramp the supply of its homegrown vaccine, along with hundreds of oxygen plants being set up, the politics of vaccine patent and liaisoning was being questioned and thought about by the UN also. Late 2020 itself, India and South Africa were the first two countries that had requested a patent waiver, at least for a limited period, to supply vaccines to the sea of humanity, being populous countries.

The Indian Prime Minister, voted the best in the world for handling the first wave of the pandemic, spared no efforts to control the deadlier second wave, even under heavy criticism.

Instead of ideas and positivities, comparisons and criticisms flourished. On one hand, while India started vaccinating a number of citizens equal to the populations of large countries daily, it also did better than most developed countries in handling the situation, in terms of sheer numbers, referred to as ‘caseloads’ ‘recoveries’ and ‘casualties’. But, as India took time to heal having been hit in the second wave, the US had surpassed India in vaccinations due to its stockpiles of 5 times the number of vaccines it needed. Countries like Israel not only developed but very quickly covered its population for vaccination. However, countries neighbouring India will not face this scrutiny as it doesn’t help the selfish interest of many.

Bruised but badass India is getting back, better than ever: Notwithstanding the fact, that the political system in India has around 28 states and 8 union territories as a collective run by 1 central government, distribution and allocation of infrastructure and benefits to over 1.3 billion Indians is a huge task. Healthcare and Education are state subjects but a determined Central government is going all out to procure vaccines and distribute free to government health centres while making it available for private hospitals to provide it for a small fee. It also has the unenviable task ot consolidate healthcare infrastructure with states, as well as dole out subsidies to around a billion people, directly into their bank accounts through a robust social equity program, while helping the economy go into the next gear. This second wave too, shall pass.

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V S Prativadi

Part Writer. Part Cartoonist. Believer in education equality. Advertising Creative Director. Wanderer. Daydreamer.