Thinkpad: Descent Into Chaos
Images by Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg; T. Narayan/Bloomberg; Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg

Thinkpad: Descent Into Chaos

There isn’t much else to say this week but recount the descent into chaos.

Hospital beds, ICUs, medication, oxygen, funeral facilities are all running short. Social media timelines are flooded with requests for help. Some miraculously get it. Others come back hours later to post goodbyes to friends and family.

Hospital, hospital executives, perhaps unable to get a hearing otherwise, have also taken to twitter to seek urgent supplies of oxygen. Some have received it hours before their hospitals ran out. States are jostling for oxygen cylinders as each tries to save their own. This one post from PTI, reflective of the dysfunction surrounding us, said that an oxygen tanker went “missing” before it could reach its destination. A first information report has been filed.

Images from across cremation grounds are haunting. Those of people denied even a chance to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones are heartbreaking.

Priya Ramani wrote on the “Hope And Heartbreak of Indian Covid Twitter” here.

The numbers aren’t encouraging at all. As cases rose above 3 lakh-a-day, BloombergQuint’s Nishant Sharma explained hotspots have moved beyond just Maharashtra. This is no longer a concentrated outbreak. Delhi, where one in three people have tested positive, is the current epicentre but other parts of the country could be next. You can understand the data in this piece.

In the midst of this, vaccines continue to be the only hope. But here too, there is chaos.

The government has opened up vaccinations for all adults but state governments and the private sector would have to bear the responsibility for those between 18 and 45 years. Provided they can get the supplies. In this piece, Menaka Doshi pieces together vaccinating supply realities. The sobering reality is that it could be June before there is any meaningful increase in supply. It’s not at all about cost this time around. India Ratings & Research estimates that it will cost less that 0.4% to vaccinate all above 18. The cost is not only easily manageable, it is essential. But, again, where are the supplies.

Even with the existing supply, the pace of vaccination has slowed to 2.5-3 million per day from the 3.5-4 million per day that was thought to be sustainable, wrote Credit Suisse’ Neelkanth Mishra. There is also significant divergence across parts of the country, which could show up in fatalities in a few weeks, he cautioned.

The government has done a half job of opening up vaccination policy. By freeing only Covid-19 vaccine prices, without defining collateral regulation, the Modi government has propagated laissez-faire and has not created a free/competitive market for vaccines, writes Raghav Bahl here. “Free markets are competitive, transparently regulated, creating a level playing field for producers and consumers. Laissez-faire, on the other hand, is chaotic, exploitative, and abusive.”

Chaos. Chaotic. Dysfunctional. Words that defined the week.

Stay safe.

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