Why is India so bad with Covid-19?

INDIA's second wave of Covid-19 is seeing people die in the street due to a collapsed health system and a lack of oxygen supplies.

The latest wave of the virus in the populous nation has been described as the world's worst outbreak yet – with data showing 352,991 new daily cases on Monday, pushing the infection total past 17 million.

Why is India so bad with Covid-19?

India has become the scene of the "world's worst" spread of coronavirus seen to date.

The country of 1.5billion people made it through the first wave of the pandemic when it went into a strict lockdown between MArch 25 and May 31 2020.

After the lockdown was lifted, the country was hit by a wave of infections but hospitals were not overwhelmed.

Scared of the repercussions of economic shutdown – which weighed heavy on a system already struggling with poverty – India was allowed to proceed with everyday life.

“We let our guard down,” Dr Shahid Jameel, one of India’s leading virologists, said. “It was complacency.”

In March this year, India was declared reopen.

Cricket matches, and massive religious festivals, all largely maskless, were held.

“These were all possible super-spreader events,” said Dr Jameel, of Ashoka University.

Now, the national government is relying on local authorities to handle the outbreak.

But some states, such as Chhattisgarh, India's poorest area, 39.93% of people live below the breadline, with barelky enough infastructure to cope with normal infections.

In Uttar Pradeshg, India's most populous state, an "oxygen monitoring system" is being used to track real-time demand for air in hospitals.

And despite India being described as "the world's pharmacy" due to its vaccine production, it has not been easy to get vaccines into arms on the continent.

On top of a lack of vaccines, India's healthcare system is underfunded and uneqipped for the virus to spread to such large levels.

Unlike Britain there was no preparations for a second or third wave, with increased PPE supplies, oxygen tankers and specialist hospitals.

Dr Jameel said: “We celebrated too early. Modellers were predicting a second wave. Historically, if you look at respiratory pandemics, they come back.”

But he added: “But nobody really expected it to be this big. We were really caught by surprise and it has completely overwhelmed the system.”

What's happening in India?


  • January 30: India’s first Covid-19 patient — a 20-year-old medical student who just came back from Wuhan in China — reported in Kerala’s Thrissur district.
  • March 10: A total of 50 Covid-19 cases reported in India, with infections doubling in just 4 days. Thirteen states and UTs in India have reported at least one Covid-19 case.
  • March 12: India reports first fatality due to Covid-19 after a 76-year-old man from Kalburgi, Karnataka, dies. India also bans entry of foreigners and suspends all visas from March 13 to April 15.
  • March 25: A nationwide lockdown across India is imposed till April 14, with only essential services kept out of its purview. Tokyo Olympics postponed for a year until 2021.
  • April 6: The death toll in India crosses the 100-mark.
  • April 14: Prime Minister Modi extends the 21-day lockdown to May 3. 10,000 confirmed cases are recorded.  MHA issues “National Directives” for COVID-19 management, makes wearing a face cover mandatory in work and public spaces.


  • February 23, 2021: The Union health ministry reveals that two new strains of Covid-19 have been detected in India. The Centre says 187 people have tested positive for the UK strain, six people detected with the South African strain and one with Brazilian strain in India.
  • March 1: Second phase of vaccination drive begins. All people above the age of 60 and those between 45 and 59 with specific comorbidities are eligible. People can now register on the Co-Win 2.0 portal.
  • March 15: India crosses the milestone of 3.15 crore vaccinations.
  • March 17: Amid reports of rising number of Covid cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a meeting with chief ministers through video-conferencing and called for quick and decisive steps to curb the spread of the virus.
  • March 21: Maharashtra reports 30,535 cases in a single day.
  • March 22: India reports 46,951 cases in a single day — the highest spike since November 2021.
  • March 23: Government announces that everybody above the age of 45 will be eligible for vaccination from April 1. 81 percent of samples test positive for new UK Covid variant.
  • April 5: The country reports its largest single-day increase in cases since September 2020, at just over 103,000.
  • April 6: The second wave has placed a major strain on the healthcare system, with reports of oxygen supply shortages at hospitals, and hospitals having to turn away patients.
  • April 9: India passes 1 million active cases.
  • April 12: India overtakes Brazil as having the second-highest overall number of cases worldwide.
  • April 24: UK sends ventilators and other vital equipment to assist India in the fight against the virus
  • April 26: India reports 350,000 new cases and over 2,800 deaths in one day

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