Yesterday on the TV Channel ‘Times Network’, the Group Editor Ms Navika Kumar was interviewing the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani of Gujarat. She was of the view that Gujarat is under reporting the number of Corona deaths. Though I appreciate Ms Navika Kumar’s journalism, her knowledge of different subjects and the way she interviews the personalities from different fields, I was very much disappointed to hear her arguments in this case. I am no fan of BJP or the CM Rupani, but his argument, in my opinion is justified.
The CM rightly explained ‘if a patient is having a co-morbidity and is detected covid +, and dies, he/she is not counted as Covid death’ where as Navika was challenging that these should be counted as Covid deaths and reported; thus, in her opinion Gujarat is under reporting. In my opinion, the CM is right. My neighbour of 90 years was bed ridden of old age problems for the past 3 years; the condition became worse and was rushed to the hospital where he died after a few hours. The covid test was done after he died and was reported +ve. (It is of no concern if it was false +ve or not, though in my opinion, it must be false +ve as no outsider went near him in the past 3 years. Thus, it was reported as a covid death and all the protocols of BMC were followed for burial; the relatives were not allowed to perform any rituals and to see the body.
In my opinion, the number of deaths due to Covid are being exaggerated, panic and scare is being created. The same is the case with projections of a shortage of beds and oxygen; even for cremation/burial the media is showing pictures of relatives waiting with the dead body in a que. These things are not new and are not the results of Corona pandemic. I have attended a number of cremations in Chembur where I stay; normally one checks with the authorities before taking the dead body there; invariably they tell the relatives to wait for 1 to 2 hours at home because of some others waiting at the crematorium, in particular if one wishes not to use electric crematorium but the old conventional wood pyre which many people still prefer due to blind faith. In our country, the scare is being created, exaggerated and projected to such an extent that the other counties have started sending medicines, oxygen and other medical supplies. The Indians overseas are calling their friends and relatives in India and asking questions whether the situation is as bad as they see on the TV and why it cannot be managed properly. We have become beggars as a nation. Is it that bad or are we intentionally projecting the same? Look at the state of the entire Indian subcontinent; Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh; why they do not have the problem, or for that matter any other country in Asia. Bangladesh seals the border with India; Number of countries are stopping flights to India; US and Australia have banned travel from India and asking their nationals to leave India immediately! This is the result of our own projection. Agreed that one death in the family is a tragedy and hundreds of deaths in a country become statistics.
Today’s newspaper reports- Saturday reported an unprecedented 4.01 lacs COVID-19 cases and 3523 deaths in the last 24 hours. As per the Government figures, the normal death rate in India is 0.72% this translates to about Rs 1 crore deaths per year, or about 27,400 per day; out of 3523 deaths attributed to Corona, we can certainly assume that 20% are due to comorbidity and/or old age. Thus, one can safely assume that the additional deaths which can be attributed to Corona only, as of today cannot be more than 2,800/day i.e. in an increase of about 10% over the normal death rate of the country; thus, temporarily the death rate has increased from 0.72 % to about 0,79 %.
As far as Oxygen in concerned, the story is no different; Ex CEO of LINDE the largest oxygen producers in India says—there is absolutely no shortage of oxygen in India. You will be surprised to know that less than 1% of oxygen production capacity is used for medical purposes. Even in Corona times it may go up to 3 times or even 5 %. I would estimate total oxygen production capacity in India to be around 100,000 tons/day (or maybe more) 80% of the production capacity is with the steel companies; yes, Reliance in Jamnagar has 22,000 tons/day capacity. There are several standalone oxygen production plants owned by gas companies. Several refillers around the country buy the gas from companies and fill gas cylinders. I have independently checked with my medical doctors and friends-the oxygen required for patients is normally 2 to 4 % higher than the oxygen content in air, which is about 21% (the rest is Nitrogen with some traces of other gases); only in some case for patients in ICU, the oxygen content at times is increased to even 30%. Thus, the total additional requirement of oxygen for medical purpose is small and the panic created by importing is not justified. The house needs to be set in order!
About the vaccine campaign, the scene is no different; panic has been created by announcing the registration for 18+; the total population added all of a sudden in this category of 18 to 45 is about 30% i.e., about 40 crores. Already crores were waiting for the first or the second dose. Where is the supply of vaccine; 4 days ago, most of the centres in Mumbai were closed; thousands of persons after waiting for 5/6 hours in the que, in the hot sun were asked to go home with no information on resumption!
Many times, the decisions are taken without debating about the implement ability, consequences or pros and cons; these are merely slogans for popularity.