.
April 21, 2021 1:13 PM   Subscribe

 


They started well. I remember a year ago, they did a lockdown for like 30 days. I found a browser bookmark to the Chessbase India quarantine group study series that was running then.
posted by thelonius at 1:40 PM on April 21, 2021


This is so tragic. I know that India is producing vaccines for Canada and I hope they keep most for their population
posted by biggreenplant at 1:41 PM on April 21, 2021 [7 favorites]


India’s massive COVID surge puzzles scientists

And a new and potentially concerning variant first identified in India late last year, known as B.1.617, has become dominant in the state of Maharashtra. B.1.617 has drawn attention because it contains two mutations that have been linked to increased transmissibility and an ability to evade immune protection. It has now been detected in 20 other countries.

More about B.1.617 on Wikipedia.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:50 PM on April 21, 2021 [11 favorites]


What a frightening time for the people of India. Disinformation and political driven impotence. US, Brazil, Russia, India jump to my mind. What a world.
posted by zerobyproxy at 1:50 PM on April 21, 2021 [7 favorites]


God, this is sad. This world breaks my heart.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 2:32 PM on April 21, 2021 [2 favorites]


I know that India is producing vaccines for Canada and I hope they keep most for their population

They've put a hold on exports.

Anyone with any power in this godforsaken world that isn't fighting to open up the vaccine patents is a mass murderer.

I don't think patents are an issue here. The Serum Institute of India--the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world--was licensed to produce the AZ vaccine last summer. They're pumping out 100 million doses per month. There's also the home-grown Covaxin vaccine and domestically manufactured Sputnik V. So IP isn't limiting vaccine manufacturing in India. Frankly, in terms of pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, India is in a great position here; it's one of their major industrial strengths. They certainly plan on being a major exporter.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:36 PM on April 21, 2021 [38 favorites]


K Sujatha Rao breaks it down pretty well...

Also, as mentioned by They sucked his brains out!, this: "Britain puts India on its red list", along with the US and New Zealand.
posted by hadjiboy at 2:40 PM on April 21, 2021


Anyone with any power in this godforsaken world that isn't fighting to open up the vaccine patents is a mass murderer.

The patents are very unlikely to be the problem, and I haven't heard of the vaccine makers threatening any patent suits, although if they have that's foolish and bad even if it's not the major issue. Patents are national; e.g., a patent in the US has no effect on manufacturing, distribution, and use in other countries. But if there are relevant patents in India, the Indian government has for decades reserved the right to "make, use, vend, or even import any [patented] medicine or drug, medical equipment or other equipment for use or distribution in public health centres owned by the government or notified by the government for that purpose".
posted by jedicus at 2:51 PM on April 21, 2021 [23 favorites]


The cases graph is terrifying, and it's basically certain that a large percentage of deaths aren't being counted. Crematoria that normally handle 10-20 bodies a day are doing upwards of 100, and prominent politicians are saying lockdowns must only be a "last resort"?

It's an disaster, and it's going to get so, so, so much worse.
posted by aramaic at 3:02 PM on April 21, 2021 [15 favorites]


mr_roboto: The Serum Institute of India--the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world--was licensed to produce the AZ vaccine last summer. They're pumping out 100 million doses per month. There's also the home-grown Covaxin vaccine and domestically manufactured Sputnik V.

But how many of those doses are staying in India, and how many are being exported?
posted by clawsoon at 3:36 PM on April 21, 2021


Prominent politicians are saying lockdowns must only be a "last resort"?

They certainly haven’t learned from our mistakes in the US.
posted by azpenguin at 3:37 PM on April 21, 2021 [4 favorites]


This unfolding disaster got about 15 seconds of coverage on today's morning news (in Australia) and no real indication about how bad it already is.
posted by krisjohn at 3:44 PM on April 21, 2021


John Campbell has a good summary of the developing situation in India . One key detail is that this variant appears to be out competing those from the UK, South Africa, Brazil.
posted by rongorongo at 3:47 PM on April 21, 2021 [2 favorites]


But how many of those doses are staying in India, and how many are being exported?

It's ... complicated. India is both an importer and exporter of finished vaccines at present; the current government appears to be insisting on continuing some level of exports (India is a huge part of the Covax arrangement) but they've blocked large exports -- it's mainly smaller shipments (eg: to Covax countries) that seem to be going through. Last I heard Iran was starting to get pretty anxious about receiving full shipments on time, but my info on all of this is two weeks old at this point.
posted by aramaic at 3:48 PM on April 21, 2021 [3 favorites]


Have seen some comment that the raw materials (pretty specialized) may have supply chain issues.
posted by sammyo at 3:50 PM on April 21, 2021


My best friend has family in Delhi. It's horrific. They drove around for a day trying to find a hospital to take her cousin and even when they got a bed, they said the place was totally overwhelmed, with the medical staff barely hanging on.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:57 PM on April 21, 2021 [15 favorites]


Per capita the confirmed cases and deaths are still very low compared with US, Europe, etc. But test positivity of 16% and rapidly rising combined with low test rates suggests an iceberg. Also, notice that the deaths are spiking right along with the infections -- no 1 month lag as is common with hospitalization.

(I hate that I can just run the numbers like this now.)
posted by joeyh at 4:37 PM on April 21, 2021 [4 favorites]


FT, not paywalled.
posted by meehawl at 4:51 PM on April 21, 2021 [1 favorite]


The vaccine situation reminds me somewhat of Ireland exporting food during the Great Famine.

Poor India, I hope there's a way out of this for them.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:53 PM on April 21, 2021


This is like watching an apocalypse. Fascism is great at getting into power, terrible about doing anything while it’s there.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:00 PM on April 21, 2021 [18 favorites]


India is having 300000 new cases a day. The United States peaked at 300000 new cases a day with one a quarter of the population. It's bad but not US bad.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:06 PM on April 21, 2021 [1 favorite]


I am in NYC but work directly with a lot of colleagues in Bangalore. We are all lucky enough to be working from home, but the start of any of our calls are always a quick COVID catchup.

I had my second shot last week and everyone in my extended family over 16 is also fully vaccinated (lots of teachers and healthcare professionals). I have been hesitant to mention that because not everyone has the same access.

The last 14 months have radicalized me even more - we need a social safety net and structure. We need to care about each other, not just within our own countries. I realize that there is tremendous privilege in how this all impacted me (not a whole lot).

Every conversation I have with my teammates in India ends in the same way - Stay safe if you can, take care of yourself, and let me know if there is anything I can take off your plate.

I feel so lucky to be vaccinated, to have almost everyone close to be vaccinated, and that light at the end of the tunnel is there. It's eye-opening to talk to my teammates. In theory, vaccines are available to everyone over 18, but nothing is really available.

The optimist in me is hopeful that this could be a turning point in the common message that government can't be effective, but not getting my hopes up.
posted by elvissa at 5:06 PM on April 21, 2021 [23 favorites]


Also, notice that the deaths are spiking right along with the infections -- no 1 month lag as is common with hospitalization.

Yeah, cases and deaths rising together is what was saw at the beginning of the pandemic in WA and NY last March, when testing capacity was starting to come online—there were a ton of cases, we were only just starting to be able to detect them. Having cases and deaths rise together so quickly either suggests India is just now standing up its testing infrastructure—which is hard to be believe in 2021—or their hospitals are already overwhelmed and people are just dying without access to ICU care.
posted by The Tensor at 5:21 PM on April 21, 2021 [7 favorites]


They started well. I remember a year ago, they did a lockdown for like 30 days.

India's lockdown was, in many ways, a disaster. After weeks of denying covid, Modi announced a complete transportation halt with four hours' notice. Hundreds of millions of people were stranded -- most of them rural villagers who work in the city for wages from jobs that had abruptly disappeared, forced to walk hundreds of miles to their villages, knowing they were likely carrying the disease to their even more vulnerable family.

And then just as abruptly, lockdown over! Go about your daily lives! For nearly a year, my extended family in India has been partying with impunity -- my cousin's daughter apparently has sleepovers like every other day because there is no virtual homework with virtual school. My other cousin, who is a junior doctor who works on the covid wards and lives with my nearly-90 great-aunt, isn't in line for the vaccine until all the elderly administrators at her hospital have had theirs. The last I talked to her, she doesn't even want the vaccine. (Which blows my mind.) Most of my parents' friends who still live in India have gotten sick. Some of my mom's school friends have died. They are in their early 60s. My mom had a blow-up fight with her sister, because my aunt is a grade A covid denier ("Indians can't get corona, we have immunity" like WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN) and I have abandoned the family Whatsapp group because I can't even with them any more.

On preview:
To white people popping into this thread to share their feelings of gratitude and/or how it's not thaaaat bad and/or how India is pumping out vaccines so they'll be fine, please take three steps back and learn to listen.
posted by basalganglia at 5:24 PM on April 21, 2021 [110 favorites]


India is having 300000 new cases a day. The United States peaked at 300000 new cases a day with one a quarter of the population. It's bad but not US bad.

Test positivity is vastly higher than it ever was in the US and cremations are vastly outnumbering the reported dead, so there’s a lot of evidence that these numbers do not remotely capture the scale of the problem.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:24 PM on April 21, 2021 [38 favorites]


A half-an-hour is all it took for 22 souls to perish, while more than 500 were saved yesterday.

Our previous Congress Union Minister speaks out, while our current BJP/RSS Home minister, a man named Amit Shah, is busy canvasing for votes in another state, while denying Covid, along with Modi.

The utter inhumanity of these two.
posted by hadjiboy at 5:46 PM on April 21, 2021 [3 favorites]


Test positivity is vastly higher than it ever was in the US and cremations are vastly outnumbering the reported dead

FT Archive Link - In Bhopal, cremations of Covid-19 victims outnumber official Covid death toll by 24x. In Gujarat, 17x.

And yes - IP isn't going to be the main thing bottlenecking vaccine supply - infrastructure and technical knowledge is. The biggest challenge in producing the mRNA vaccine (Pfizer / Moderna) is encapsulating the mRNA - each mRNA strand needs to be perfectly encapsulated in the middle of 4 nano-lipid particles, something you can't achieve by simply putting the mixture in a blender and turning it on. The resulting lipid complex of mRNA strand + 4 particles is about 100 nanometers in size. For comparison, a human hair is 100,000 nanometers wide. A red blood cell is 8,000 nanometers.

Australia is investing money into an mRNA manufacturing facility but it will take at least 1 year to come online - to get prepared for the next pandemic, which will come, inevitably. Every country should view building vaccine production facilities as a matter of national security at this stage...

Even the less technical viral-vector vaccines or inactivated vaccines are beyond the reach of most countries to manufacture.
posted by xdvesper at 5:52 PM on April 21, 2021 [20 favorites]


.

I'm here, I'm listening.
posted by freethefeet at 6:13 PM on April 21, 2021 [4 favorites]


India is having 300000 new cases a day. The United States peaked at 300000 new cases a day with one a quarter of the population. It's bad but not US bad.

In addition to the comments about reported cases vs actual deaths making the comparison lopsided (and the potential that cases in India will peak much higher), this comparison ignores the resources (including medical) that the US has available.

These articles and stories are so distressing to read, and I have been worried more and more about friends who live there.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:13 PM on April 21, 2021 [3 favorites]


posted by RedOrGreen at 7:20 PM on April 21, 2021 [2 favorites]


(and the potential that cases in India will peak much higher)

Given that the current caseload is the same as the US at its peak and is, as you note, greatly underestimating the scope of the problem... and that the slope of the graph of new cases and deaths is essentially vertical I think that's not a possibility but rather an absolute certainty.

I thought Brazil was probably as bad as it was going to get and I'm very sorry I was probably wrong.
posted by Justinian at 8:02 PM on April 21, 2021 [8 favorites]


>>>“We are shocked and dismayed that the government does not seem to be seeing the reality… What is happening? Why is the government not waking up to the reality,” said the court.

Because tweedle-dee and tweedle-dumber don't care about Indians, or India... they're Hindutva-logues too busy trying to turn India into something she never was.
posted by hadjiboy at 8:25 PM on April 21, 2021 [11 favorites]


Micro-containment zones. Micro-containment zones?! That’s their strategy? That’s not a strategy! With the positivity rates we’re looking at that’s literally worse than nothing — it won’t change the rate of infection, but it will hurt certain (undesirable) people more than others.

AAAAaaaaaaa!
posted by aramaic at 8:38 PM on April 21, 2021 [6 favorites]


.

This is awful.
posted by janell at 9:04 PM on April 21, 2021 [1 favorite]


I'm here and I'm listening. To this thread, and to the distress and grief of several Indian colleagues and friends who are watching this unfold with horror.
posted by medusa at 9:19 PM on April 21, 2021


From the link 'India’s massive COVID surge puzzles scientists' posted above,
Studies that tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies — an indicator of past infection — in December and January estimated that more than 50% of the population in some areas of India’s large cities had already been exposed to the virus, which should have conferred some immunity
It has. The infection spread was lopsided in the 1st wave. In Mumbai's 2nd wave, BMC reports that 95%* of cases are from 'high-rises' i.e. non-slum areas. During the 1st wave, over 4 million in 'slum' areas were inside 600+ containment zones. There were 20+ such zones in my ward. At present, there are 100, with 0.5 million inside them, even with active case count being 3x of the peak of the 1st wave. There are 0 containment zones in my ward even though it has among the higher growth rates for cases. The maids in our society are working as normal.

Mumbai's daily case count peaked 15 days ago. The rural towns and villages of Maharashtra are the ones hardest hit this time.

*https://www.indiatoday.in/coronavirus-outbreak/story/coronavirus-spike-mumbai-count-of-sealed-buildings-at-650-1786389-2021-04-02 (3rd last para)
posted by daksya at 9:25 PM on April 21, 2021 [15 favorites]


From the article:

Thadhani said this time round the virus was “much more aggressive and much more infectious” and was now predominately affecting young people. “Now it is people in their 20s and 30s who are coming in with very severe symptoms and there is a lot of mortality among young people,” he said.

If this continues to be true with this new variant, it will have a big impact on the rest of the world.
posted by medusa at 9:28 PM on April 21, 2021 [5 favorites]


daksya, thank you for posting that article, I am learning a lot today. I wasn't sure if high rises in Indian cities are similar to those in Korea, with both super luxury and middle class clusters, so found this Times of India article.
The second Covid wave has led to the sealing of landmark residential skyscrapers in south Mumbai, locking up families within their luxury apartments... Over 600 buildings in Mumbai are sealed at present, which means they are in lockdown - no one goes in or out, unless they get special permission. Even essential provisions have to be delivered at the gate....

a resident quote: "BMC [the city] pasted a notice at the entrance notifying six Covid positive cases, but there is no one monitoring if anyone is coming in or going out."
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:41 PM on April 21, 2021 [1 favorite]


[p.s. it was a bit challenging to click on the "." to get to this post, I went to the Guardian article twice because of my fumble fingers. Longer titles for posts would be appreciated!]
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:43 PM on April 21, 2021 [11 favorites]


It does appear to be much more infectious - there's a lot more intra-family transmission but I don't know where he is getting the "lot of mortality among young people". Not in Mumbai - in the 20 to 40 group, the CFR from March till present is 0.06%, it was 0.13% for the period from Sep to Feb, and 0.95% for the period before then but the initial period the treatment protocols were still in flux.
posted by daksya at 9:47 PM on April 21, 2021 [6 favorites]


Reporting in from India, where we are scrambling to find the second dose for my parents because hospitals don't have it.
There are no beds. No oxygen. Medicines are being sold at exorbitant rates in the black market. Twitter and Instagram have turned into crowd sourced lists of resources and scenes of endless heartbreak with people begging for help, any help. All this while the central government has utterly and completely abdicated its responsibilities, busy with campaigning for a state election (yes, in the middle of all this - huge maskless rallies). It makes me incandescent with rage that we had FOURTEEN MONTHS to prepare for a near certain second wave and yet, we are staring at dystopia. Don't trust the numbers - the underreporting is significant.
Oh and the insurance for frontline healthcare workers lapsed announced last year ran out on March 24. Apparently the government is still figuring out what to do about it. Imagine being a frontline worker and realising that's how little your government cares about you while you put your lives on the line everyday.
Modi fans still exist. I cannot imagine how. I've had to scale back my doomscrolling because it's difficult to remain functional in the face of such trauma and apathy.
I don't believe in the concept of heaven and hell. But if hell exists, the central leadership of this country belongs there.
posted by Nieshka at 10:03 PM on April 21, 2021 [85 favorites]


I don't think patents are an issue here. The Serum Institute of India--the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world--was licensed to produce the AZ vaccine last summer. They're pumping out 100 million doses per month.

They took a huge punt on setting up for production well before the astrazeneca studies were complete - they could have ended up with warehouses full of useless product, and producing vaccines at scale is HARD, even the more traditional ones. So the Serum Institute have managed a near miracle to be at that level at this point, especially considering the amount of other medicines and vaccines they already produce for much of the planet. Logistics to get the precursors is also the exact opposite of easy. They estimate 1 billion doses produced by end of 2021.

However, when compared to the size of the Indian population (almost 1.4 billion) that'd still be 28 months to fully vaccinate everyone (2 doses per), even assuming 100% of Serum's production was reserved for domestic use. It isn't, because Serum is also the core or even only supplier for many countries that do not have the people or facilities to produce their own any time soon, so Modi et al are still sending some (though not as much) production onwards. There's also reportedly an element of vaccine diplomacy going on by the government, to counterweight Russian and Chinese influence elsewhere.

So Serum's ongoing efforts will eventually make a big difference - but combined with distribution, vaccine-hesitancy, and the sheer size of the Indian population, it's a herculean task. Right now, the virus is completely out of control, the Indian health system is in full collapse, and Modi and pals are making it so much worse (election rallies, FFS!). Vaccine nationalism by western countries isn't helping any either. It's a full on humanitarian disaster, the number of cases reported are much lower than what's actually happening on the ground.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 4:51 AM on April 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


To white people popping into this thread to share their feelings of gratitude and/or how it's not thaaaat bad and/or how India is pumping out vaccines so they'll be fine, please take three steps back and learn to listen.

I'll add to this and say to all the westerners aghast at the staggering cruelty and incompetence of a religious fascist government facing a pandemic they can't fearmonger away (sound familiar?): this is the price of all the wonderful benefits your countries have parasitically extracted via centuries of colonialism and decades of bipartisan neoliberalism. While none of you have explicitly wanted this and much of this began even before most of us were born, this has been done in your name for decades by both the leaders you love and the leaders you hate.

This is the price of collegiality in the face of Western hegemony, of racial capitalism, and of the pathetic incremental liberal reforms to these evil superstructures advocated by the most profoundly sheltered and paradoxically fragile people on Earth. This is the price of not knowing your history and why your clothing is so cheap. This is the price of not asking "why the fuck is so much art and treasure from all around the world in western museums". This is the price of not knowing where the word "loot" comes from.

And to make matters worse, that price is being paid by the already deeply marginalized. I have already lost family to this and there does not seem to be an end in sight. I try to moderate my tone in primarily white/western spaces because the absolute despair and rage I feel doesn't help anyone, but self-policing my tone doesn't seem to actually lead to people paying attention or understanding why things happen the way they do.
posted by Ouverture at 5:23 AM on April 22, 2021 [47 favorites]


They took a huge punt on setting up for production well before the astrazeneca studies were complete - they could have ended up with warehouses full of useless product, and producing vaccines at scale is HARD, even the more traditional ones.

Engaging in a little realpolitik here, but was this really much of a business risk? The studies indicating the effectiveness of the vaccine were in, the only thing uncertain was the adverse health risks. And there would undoubtedly be some country somewhere that would be willing to swallow a higher-risk vaccine if it was the only thing on offer. As long as what they were making was effective as a vaccine, they'd be finding a buyer.

Not to mention the situation in India domestically right now, is proving that making a vaccine with slightly elevated health risks is still a goddamn great idea if it ends up getting more jabs in more arms more quickly. As you point out yourself, it's still not enough, not quickly enough, but I don't see the downside risk from the heartless business perspective.
posted by notoriety public at 5:26 AM on April 22, 2021


> The studies indicating the effectiveness of the vaccine were in

For Oxford/AZ, that was in late Dec 2020. SIL started production a few months before that.
posted by daksya at 5:42 AM on April 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


Blaming colonialism for this Covid outbreak & consequent chaos - which is happening due to all kinds of diverse factors, from scientific dishonesty to the present-day resurgence Hindutva in India - is patronizing af. Indians are fully capable of engineering our own national disasters, thank you. Western folks who feel tempted to use this post as your soapbox for your pet peeves about your own governments, please just sit this one out.
posted by MiraK at 5:42 AM on April 22, 2021 [19 favorites]


Blaming colonialism for the present-day resurgence Hindutva in India is patronizing af. Indians are fully capable of shouldering the blame for our own crap, thank you. Western folks who feel tempted to use this post as your soapbox for your pet peeves about your own governments, please just sit this one out.

Not western (not even born here!), but thanks for that. Not accounting for the impacts of colonialism in the transgenerational deprivation of South Asia is certainly an interesting approach to reckoning with history.
posted by Ouverture at 5:46 AM on April 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


It's not about where you were born, it's about the lens you are using to analyze this post.
posted by MiraK at 5:49 AM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


It's not about where you were born, it's about the lens you are using to analyze this post.

The lens I'm using is a post-colonial one created by post-colonial South Asian and African feminist writers, researchers, and organizers.

Would Hindu nationalism exist in its current form without partition? Would people be more or less receptive to its message if the economic growth in India wasn't so deeply lopsided as a result of decades of neoliberal collaboration by the Congress Party?

"Indians are fully capable of engineering our own disasters" is certainly true, but I would love to understand the systems of history and power around it. After all, the past few decades of liberal/progressive/left failures to counter fascism in India (and everywhere else) is a very rich data set that indicates the dangers of ahistorical and localized domain analysis.

If the BJP suck so much, why do they keep winning?

If my lens is insufficient, give me a better one :)
posted by Ouverture at 6:00 AM on April 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


> The studies indicating the effectiveness of the vaccine were in

For Oxford/AZ, that was in late Dec 2020. SIL started production a few months before that.


Okay, that's fair. I guess I was optimistic. So still a gamble. But I think the gamble then was in choosing which horse to bet on, because not betting on any horse would just mean they wouldn't have anything in the pipe for months longer. But they had to pick a horse.

Anyway, this is a bit of a derail. From a strictly medical technology perspective, my opinion is this has been managed as well as could be expected- a worldwide effort pursuing multiple vaccine types, all with some material degree of effectiveness.

The problems are, as they so often are, more political in nature. This whole mess could have been mitigated. If the entire world said back in December 2019, "you know, this looks like it could be a bad one, let's just SHUT THE FUCK DOWN to the maximum extent possible, for a month, and engage in vigorous local quarantines with worldwide material and financial support as soon as we detect hotspots", and... this would all have been kept under control. We wouldn't have gotten variants because we wouldn't have had millions of human petri dishes cooking them up for a year. It's something we could have done... if the world wasn't run by a bunch of assholes.
posted by notoriety public at 6:05 AM on April 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


It's been nerve wracking for me as an immigrant from India to sit here in USA and try to figure out what's real and what isn't, in all this reporting about India's Covid waves. Back in the early days of the pandemic, india's low numbers seemed too good to be true. I still believe they were. My parents who live in Bangalore only just got their second dose of vaccine... But they (and secretly, I too!) were unsure about whether it's wise to take that vaccine, given the Ranbaxy exposé just a scant few years ago. The credibility of scientific research, pharmaceutical manufacturing standards, honesty in data gathering and data reporting... ALL of these have gone precipitously downhill in the last ~30 years that India stopped being socialist. I don't know if that's causality, but that is the timeline.

Someone up thread said it's not credible to suggest that india's testing infrastructure isn't yet mature in 2021? I think it absolutely is credible. Yes, some parts of India's infrastructure are functioning well enough that they were exporting vaccines until recently, and also, at the same time, India's Covid tests are unreliable.

It's very very weird and scary to sit here and show myself to know that my parents and aunties/uncles and cousins and niblings are all just being experimented on. Unless someone is quite rich, there's no way to avoid being the indian government's guinea pig during this pandemic.
posted by MiraK at 6:29 AM on April 22, 2021 [12 favorites]


"Indians are fully capable of engineering our own disasters" is certainly true, but I would love to understand the systems of history and power around it.

That's excellent. You're welcome take your interest and your questions to a relevant thread, just don't derail this one by making it about western people.
posted by MiraK at 6:37 AM on April 22, 2021 [12 favorites]


The stories I'm hearing from my school friends and colleagues in Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai are absolutely awful. If wealthy and connected people are having the problems that they are having then I can only imagine the suffering in the rest of the country.

The initial lockdown was obviously a clusterfuck and had horrible consequences for migrant labourers but it did at least seem to stop the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile my friends are still spread 50/50 between die-hard bhakths who think that Modi can do no wrong and liberals who are sure that this will be his downfall (...but who thought that about DeMo and GST, and J&K as well so I'm not sure they've really got their fingers on the popular pulse).
posted by atrazine at 6:38 AM on April 22, 2021 [11 favorites]


die-hard bhakths who think that Modi can do no wrong and liberals who are sure that this will be his downfall (...but who thought that about DeMo and GST, and J&K as well so I'm not sure they've really got their fingers on the popular pulse).

I mean, do you remember how we all were about each new Trump scandal that came to light? We got lucky, Indians haven't yet.
posted by MiraK at 6:42 AM on April 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


I simply don't understand how our leadership cannot see this is an existential threat that has to be defeated worldwide.
posted by srboisvert at 7:10 AM on April 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


I simply don't understand how our leadership cannot see this is an existential threat that has to be defeated worldwide.

Nationalism is terrible for solving global problems. Fascist is terrible for solving problems that don't react to ideology or grift. You can't distract diseases with hate.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:17 AM on April 22, 2021 [10 favorites]


Look, Ma, a new record! (NYT)
India’s rapidly worsening coronavirus outbreak is now expanding on a scale beyond any previously measured in more than a year of the pandemic: The health ministry reported more than 310,000 new infections on Thursday, the most recorded in any country on a single day.
India’s total eclipsed the previous one-day high of 300,669 recorded coronavirus cases, set in the United States on Jan. 8. … The death toll has also begun to climb precipitously. … There are signs that the country’s health system, patchy even before the pandemic, is collapsing under the strain.
Click only if you have a strong stomach: Patients die gasping for air (Indian Express).
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:27 AM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


That Indian Express link sent me on a nightmare of spam, just a warning.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:32 AM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


(Ugh, sorry, I forget that I have javascript etc. disabled for most sites. My apologies.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2021


That's excellent. You're welcome take your interest and your questions to a relevant thread, just don't derail this one by making it about western people.

I hope we can agree to disagree that this is a derail. After all, Metafilter has had many discussions about the similar white supremacist parasitic legacies and disparities when it comes to policing and even COVID-19 in the US.

Decolonization in public health is a critical aspect of understanding exactly how and why LMICs, particularly India, are experiencing so much suffering, even if we agree that Hindus are "fully capable of engineering their own disasters".

Some interesting writing through this lens:
- Will global health survive its decolonisation?
- How can Covid-19 be the catalyst to decolonise development research?
- Decolonising global health: if not now, when?

As for what is happening right now
- Triple-mutant ‘Bengal strain’ a new worry in second wave
- India is running out of oxygen, Covid-19 patients are dying – because the government wasted time
- India’s COVID-19 taskforce did not meet in February, March despite surge, say members

In the exact words of one of my public health friends living there, "We are fuuuucked".
posted by Ouverture at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2021 [13 favorites]


srboisver: my friend, you are giving these people way more latitude than they deserve... leadership? The megalomaniac can't even leader his way outta a paper bag, without the help of his faithful subjects--it's just fanaticism run a-muck.

It's like (not trying to hitler the thread, but) the Fuhrer on d-day, thinking to himself--yeah... yeah--I got this... I so TOTALLY got-this.

The more pathological they are, the harder they fall... I'm just worried about the rest of us, who he'll undoubtedly be using to break his fall--god help us all.
posted by hadjiboy at 12:18 PM on April 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


That's a fascinating round-up Ouverture. I'm only two links in but already learning so much.

It really helps that you shifted the framing from the initial cry of "Western hegemony is responsible for all this! We took their artifacts, we enslaved them for cheap clothes, we did it all, we are so terrible, we keep electing neoliberal capitalists..." (i.e. exclusively focusing on "we" as in western people) to this latest comment, which centers Indians and others in the Global South, talking about their experience of the workings and impact of larger hegemonic structures. Thank you for this.
posted by MiraK at 12:53 PM on April 22, 2021 [10 favorites]


Nationalists, for all they proclaim to love a country, for all they proclaim to love its people, they just have these records of not caring enough about them and leaving said people to die once the shit hits the fan. I hate it so much because the loudest are always the fucking charlatans.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:44 PM on April 22, 2021 [9 favorites]




Is there anything that individual people can do to help from abroad? I trust this community to have practical ideas.
posted by prefpara at 8:47 AM on April 23, 2021 [5 favorites]


Yes... always.

As a member of this species that had the fortune of being born, or raised--or now living in a part of the world where there are things which are *unimaginable* where I am living right now... not because they never were--that my country had not once been a member of those where free speech and free will were ideals to be cherished, and not fantasies to fathom--please, if you can: spread the word as far and wide as you can.

Even if it's just one person... tell him/her. Let them know that there is a corner of this sphere where democracy is dying--where once there lay a great Nation--a place where a great people flourished... they are now being beating down with hate, and fear, and violence.

I will be making it my mission to post as much of the truth as I can from where I live, for as long as I can, in the hopes that there might be people like you who are out there, who just might want to hear what I have to say. About what the people who have the courage, and the undying strength to stand up to the enemy at the gates--look him in the eye, and not flinch... these are the men and women I will be posting of.

Take care my friend, and god speed.
posted by hadjiboy at 12:15 PM on April 23, 2021 [12 favorites]


I think we can help out by donating to local grassroots organizations who are working directly with impacted people and communities. I donated to these two Indian organizations last year:

1. PAIGAM (People’s Association In Grassroots Action and Movement): one of their projects during the pandemic has been to organize with and provide for sanitation workers in Delhi, who were being expected to work without any safety equipment and had their wages interrupted during lockdown. I don't have any statistics about stuff like what their administrative costs are, etc., but I do believe in their work and the way they operate. They are committed to secularism (no Hindutva, no churchy proselytizers) and they have a pretty "old school" (in the Indian context) leftist approach to community organizing: cultivating long-term socio-political leadership from within the community rather than a bunch of outsiders waltzing in with temporary technocratic solutions.

2. Jan Vikas Samiti: a UP-based NGO with a focus on Dalit (oppressed caste) and Adivasi (indigenous people) communities. They've been around since 1998, and are transparent about their financials on their website (though I do not have the skills to evaluate how good those are). No religious affiliations.
posted by MiraK at 7:19 AM on April 24, 2021 [6 favorites]


The NY Times has a front page article about the massive undercounting in the official death numbers in India:

“It’s a complete massacre of data,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan who has been following India closely. “From all the modeling we’ve done, we believe the true number of deaths is two to five times what is being reported.”
posted by Dip Flash at 7:25 AM on April 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


The NY Times has a front page article about the massive undercounting in the official death numbers in India:

I meant to have added that the article credits (and links to) the extensive reporting on this by Indian newspapers, which I appreciated.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:32 AM on April 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


The initial lockdown was obviously a clusterfuck and had horrible consequences for migrant labourers but it did at least seem to stop the spread of the virus.

I did not know about these consequences, and I regret bringing it up, early in the thread, when I don't actually know much about it, except when it occurred. I was impressed by it at the time. It's not an absurd strategy to bite the bullet and try to contain the initial spread. But implementing that lockdown in a way that lessens the inequity of the costs is another thing.
posted by thelonius at 12:02 PM on April 24, 2021


My aunt died of COVID-19 back in January. She lived in Calcutta. She was afraid of doctors. She went to a homeopath when she started showing symptoms. 72 hours later, her housekeeper discovered her dead in her bed. My dad was mad at first, then very, very sad (she was his baby sister).

Three days ago my dad texted me to say that my cousin, her husband, and her 15 year old daughter, also living in Calcutta, have tested positive for COVID. He is very, very mad now.

My cousin is in the hospital on a ventilator. Her husband is in the hospital receiving treatment but no need for a ventilator. Their daughter is about a mile away in a quarantine center being tended to by nurses. Her symptoms are the mildest. She has been texting me periodically saying that she is worried about her parents and angry at God for taking away her great aunt and now ruining her happy family due to the pandemic. She says that she used to confide her worries and fears to her mother and to her great aunt and now both have been taken away from her. I told her she could always talk to me, that even though I live in New York and the time difference is not in our favor I will always respond if she texts me even if it takes a few hours.

I am trying to be comforting to her. She is much more sheltered than I was at her age and doesn't follow politics. My father's family all subscribe to the belief that political activism is not proper or polite and don't voice any political opinions. Ever. I was born and raised in the US, my father broke free from his family's worldview and is obsessed with politics, my late mother was an attorney and an activist and a Marxist. She didn't believe in God. I don't believe in God either. I don't know what to tell my niece when she rants about how angry she is at God. I want to tell her that she should be angry at the systems that have failed and are failing our family, that Modi is a dangerous fundamentalist who cares more about Hindutva purity, mistreating Indian Muslims (and turning a blind eye to Hindu terrorist groups), and how many members of his political party he can get elected to parliament to further his religious agenda than he does about his people dying of COVID, mass cremations, and how profoundly he bungled the COVID response last year (Modi is Brown Trump AFAIK). I want to tell her that God had nothing to do with this, that this is a systemic failure, a political failure, from a megalomaniacal narcissistic PM and lack of proper public safety protocols. There is no God. There is only the man that her country elected who is going to destroy them all if allowed, just to ensure that India is deemed a Hindu country. Which India never was. India's was founded on the premise of secularism. God didn't destroy my niece's family.

But I can't say that to a sheltered teenager who has tested positive for COVID, alone in a quarantine center waiting for news about her hospitalized parents, who is still grieving her great aunt. I have been the black sheep of my father's family for years, expectations of me have always been profoundly low with them because I'm a crass American with tattoos and without a post-graduate degree whose late mother was a "trouble-maker" who got arrested in protests. I don't know what to say to her, except that I am here, I will always listen (or read), and I know she is scared, and I understand she is angry. I think she's angry at the wrong thing. But I think anger is a reasonable response right now.

I don't know what point I'm trying to make, except that this COVID surge in India may knock out multiple members of my father's family and I am livid that it has gotten to this point.
posted by nayantara at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2021 [30 favorites]


The situation in India continues to get worse.

NYT: ‘This Is a Catastrophe.’ In India, Illness Is Everywhere.
India is now recording more infections per day — as many as 350,000 — than any other country has since the pandemic began, and that’s just the official number, which most experts think is a vast underestimation.

New Delhi, India’s sprawling capital of 20 million, is suffering a calamitous surge. A few days ago, the positivity rate hit a staggering 36 percent — meaning more than one out of three people tested were infected. A month ago, it was less than 3 percent.
The feedback from my family and friends is that the news coverage is still really, really understating how bad things are.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:58 AM on April 27, 2021 [3 favorites]


Modeling suggests that given the case and positivity rates the true number of new cases per day could be more than 10 million. It's unimaginable.
posted by Justinian at 3:15 PM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q_mhJRFtxg&ab_channel=Dr.JohnCampbell

People in India tend to have serious vitamin D deficiency.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2021


My stepmother is stranded in New Delhi overseeing the care of her mother (who has had multiple strokes in the past few years). Thankfully, she, her mother, and the in-home nurses have managed to stay unaffected. But my stepmother went to the bank the other day to pick up some cash to pay the super and other building attendants and the teller she usually deals with is out with COVID, as are all of the other bank employees save 2. She says that in her neighborhood basically every other house has at least one person with COVID, and in some cases, like my cousin's family, the whole family has it. It's absolutely dire. It's horrendous. Again, don't know what else to say except that I am so very angry and fuck Modi into the ground.
posted by nayantara at 11:19 AM on April 28, 2021 [6 favorites]


Arundhati Roy writes for The Guardian: ‘We are witnessing a crime against humanity’
posted by cendawanita at 5:11 AM on April 29, 2021 [5 favorites]


a friend hooked me up to this linktree: https://www.sonaksha.com/link-map - it's got a gdocs to a list of active india-based mutual aid fundraisers.
posted by cendawanita at 8:34 PM on April 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


How to Support India When You're Not in India - also a fundraiser masterpost
posted by cendawanita at 10:18 PM on April 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


I've spent the past couple days trying to convince people to get out via ethical routes (ie., with appropriate vaccination/quarantine/testing regimes, which is, like a whole problem unto itself) and two things strike me:

1) the prices have gone bananas, with routes having gone equally insane (BLR-DOH-DXB-MCT-SFO, what? Wait, BLR-to-Colombo and then Tanzania before going back to Chennai then onwards to Muscat, for how long?)

2) it's shockingly impossible to convince Modi-voters that anything is wrong despite what's happening ("oh, we'll just get our food delivered, it's no problem"), regardless of what familial relationship you may have ("no, no, that's too long a flight for too much money we'll just pay the maid to stay home").

AAAAaaaaaaaa.

I guess I have a better understanding of those folks on the Titanic who figured everything was well in hand, no need to ruffle the feathers lads?

(I may be panicking out of turn)
posted by aramaic at 8:26 PM on April 30, 2021 [2 favorites]




« Older That's what it's all about.   |   I scream, you scream, we all scream for the right... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments