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Pandemic endangers India’s middle class

Posted by / June 13, 2021

India’s rapidly burgeoning middle class is in deep trouble. The pandemic has hindered––and in some cases wiped out––their businesses, potentially sending them back to poverty.

As India’s COIVD surge begins to abate, its true horror is coming into clearer focus. Struggling under a collapsing health care system, many Indians turned to social media to find help. Others aggregated information about available hospital beds and open clinics.

Earlier this week, India’s COVID deaths officially passed 300,000, although the official count is highly questionable.25 More than 7,000 Indians have been diagnosed with black fungus disease, which has a 50% mortality rate. The disease often follows extended use of antibiotics or steroids, which weaken the immune system.

Hundreds of corpses have been found floating in in the river or buried in the sand on the banksFifty doctors have been reported dead in India in a single dayIndia, already buckling under the weight of a COVID surge, is about to face a new challenge: it is spreading to Indian villages, threatening to overwhelm their already weak healthcare systems. Last week, hundreds of bodies were found along the banks of the Ganges River, often buried in shallow graves. The bodies pose a potential health risk, and they also suggest that the dead are not being accurately counted.

Indian journalists started counting the COVID dead and found what many international observers have long suspected: the government is undercounting, and in some cases drastically.

COVID is killing 120 people per hour in India. Just this week, India  set a new single-day COVID record on Thursday, with more than 410,000 new casesCOVID cases have topped 20 million. Things have gotten so bad that cricket, one of the nation’s favorite pastimes, has been haltedIndia’s vaccination rates are plummeting, thanks partly to the collapsing healthcare system in the country and shortages of the Russian vaccine.

A group of India’s leading industrialists urged the country to slow economic activity in order to save lives. The group’s urgings come as India’s daily COVID cases surpassed 400,000 for the first time, signaling a grim new turn in the virus’s spread in that country.

The United States has limited travel from India as the country suffers under a massive COVID surge. Perhaps the United States is worried about new strains getting into the country, since India blamed its COVID spike on variants of the virus. Meanwhile, India is planning to allow the annual Amarnath pilgrimage, which may see as many as 600,000 pilgrims, despite being the midst of an unprecedented COVID crisis, with cases surging well beyond the country’s capability. In the penultimate week of April, India saw 341,000 COVID cases in a single day. The spike in cases is partly due to some of the new variants spreading around the world––but the spike also raises concerns about new variants emerging in the country more than one billion people. Should too many new variants emerge, the spike could get worse elsewhere. What’s worse, if the variants bypass the vaccine then we could be set back to zero.

The country’s government is floundering in the face of the surge, and they’re struggling to contain the bad PR. Twitter is actually blocking complaints about the Indian government’s handling of the crisis, most likely in order to stave off social unrest. The government is clearly worried about some form of collapse, in fact, since they’ve threatened to hang anyone who interferes with oxygen deliveriesSaudi Arabia is sending India some 80 metric tons of oxygen. The United States is also sending raw materials for dealing with the COVID outbreak, including materials for a vaccine.

The COVID situation is so bad, in fact, that the country’s richest citizens are fleeing in private jets.

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