India failed to prepare for second COVID wave: IIM-A prof

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New Delhi, Apr 25 (PTI) Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad professor Chinmay Tumbe on Sunday said India failed to prepare for the second COVID-19 wave due to the complacency of the government and society, and failure to keep track of the different strains of the virus.

Tumbe, who recently authored the book titled 'The Age of Pandemics: How They Shaped India and the World', further said India will have to be alert for at least two more years to the possibility of a repeated wave of this crisis.

'I think there are two major factors (India's failure to prepare for the second wave). One is, of course, complacency from the government level, from the society level where everybody assumed that the pandemic is over, but serious pandemic rarely gets over in a few months, so that was a big mistake.

'Second is failure to keep track of the different strains of the virus, it's clear that this particular strain that is right now is quite different from the first one,' he told PTI.

India is grappling with a spiralling number of COVID cases as well as related deaths, forcing many state governments to put in place restrictions on the movement of people.

Asked what India could have done differently to fight COVID-19, Tumbe said if you see what countries like New Zealand and Australia have done, they have been very very slow to go back to full economic activity.

'The fact that a lot of focus on the science behind the pandemic was forgotten in India. For example, Kumbh Mela should not have been allowed because we were not completely out of the woods of pandemic,' he said. He also argued that beds, oxygen cylinders, ventilators, all should have been ramped up in the last year by the Centre and states.

'Between, say December to February, the amount of complacency was terrible,' Tumbe opined.

The IIMA professor said the pandemic is not going to get over in a few weeks, it is going to be there for a long time.

'We have to be alert for at least two more years to the possibility of a repeated wave of this crisis. But our immediate focus has to be on crushing this immediate wave in the next few weeks,' he said.

Asked how India should prepare to fight the next pandemic, Tumbe said the country needs to ramp up the availability of bed, oxygen cylinders and ventilators.

'It is better to have an oversupply of these things than undersupply... Even if COVID-19 cases come down, we should plan ourselves for 10X, 20X demand for medical oxygen that sort of planning has to be done,' he observed. PTI BKS MR BAL BAL