It was on 6th March that researches in London's Imperial College gave warnings about the gravity of the spread of Covid in America. Their projection was that if steps to prevent the virus were not taken immediately, at least 81 per cent of the population would get affected. That study also contained an estimate that deaths in US alone could touch a million.
Though President Donald Trump was apprised of the seriousness of the matter, he apparently ignored them in the beginning. In addition, he dismissed with contempt such reports, with a rationale that after all 37,000 had died of flu in America last year, and at that time there was no lockdown. He had no hesitation to state openly before mediamen that the 'Chinese virus' would go back in the way it came in. At that time, only less than 300 people had been confirmed as infected, with only 11 reported deaths. Four weeks thence, things have turned topsy-turvey. The US has become the country with the highest number of corona-infected patients in the world, he number of infected cases getting close to 3.5 million, with a death toll nearing 10,000. New York state where four thousand people lost their lives has literally become a valley of death. The greatest economic power of the world is virtually begging before nations of the world for all possible preventive actions.
America, which has one of the best health security systems in the world, is currently not suffering from deficit of medical facilties or dearth of funds. They are far ahead of any other nation in medical research. Of all the innovations in the field of health over the last 30 years, 90 per cent came as contributions from the US. If, in spite of that Trump has been forced to seek the help of a 'hostile nation' like China to overcome this critical phase, one can guess how complex the situation has become. According to the figures of Trump's own health aides, if the virus cannot be prevented, death toll will cross 2.5 lakhs. If matters hit that point, the existing health facilities in the US will be inadequate. Even now in New York alone, more than 75,000 health workers have been deployed. And they need another 17,000 ventilators there. When half of the world's population are living in full or partial lockdown, Trump failed to be seized of the possible consequences of the disease, which caused the setback for US. He still lacks any comprehensive plan of action to drive the virus away from the continent by testing the millions of people currently under observation. As for the directives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), he cared only to reject that outright. In a way there was nothing surprising in it. For, even as so much of research and innovations were happening in the US, he had only doubts about them. His track record is only of lending energy to the conspiracy theories of anti-science campaigners. But Trump, known for an anti-vaccine person, has now called upon scientists to swiftly develop a vaccine against corona!
What converted New York into a death valley is the result of a nation's ruler running roughshod over all scientific and technological advance based on God-given knowledge, and running after myths and irrationalities. He was driven by prejudices rooted in his own beliefs, rather than scientific knowledge. In fact, isn't this crisis present in our country too? Like Trump, Modi does not possess, beyond mere rhetoric, any comprehensive plan for Covid prevention. When 5,400 in every million people in the US are subjected to test, in India that is a mere 66, meaning that even in diagnosis we are far behind. In other words, if Covid-19 which so far has spread hazard only in certain regions, if and when it enters the phase of community transmission, we have to assume that there is no mechanism to stem that.
According to public health sector experts, at least in some parts it has entered the phase of community transmission, and for that very reason the coming days are very critical. At that point, lockdown alone will not be sufficient as a means of defence; there should be precise health security mechanisms. Unfortunately, except for a few states including Kerala, most regions have only tales of lack of facilities to tell. This apathy will expedite the spread of community transmission. Also pushing back the thrust of Covid prevention is the Modi government's embrace of the 'science' put forward by his own ideology to the neglect of science like Trump. When cow urine, cow dung and yoga get priority in Covid treatment, that will only lead to the creation of New York model valleys of death.