Bert Burger, economist and resident expert on India with Atradius, details the state of that country’s struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus.
The second wave of the virus has taken a heavy toll on India, which has become the third country to report more than 300,000 official deaths caused by COVID-19. “Like other Asian countries, India led the way in controlling COVID-19 last year,” says Burger, “but this year it’s struggling to vaccinate.”
The problem lies in the difficulty of manufacturing and distributing the vaccine to India’s population of more than 1.3 billion. Despite an extensive manufacturing capacity for producing the virus, only about 14% of India’s citizens have received any injections. That compares with between 50% and 85% in the U.S., Great Britain and Europe.
There are signs that the crisis might be waning. In India, the number of new cases of the virus peaked at 400,000 per day, but has since declined to around 200,000 — still an unacceptably large number, but evidence of a downward trend.
India’s retail and wholesale sectors are bearing the brunt of the second wave of the virus, while manufacturing and agriculture remain relatively strong, Burger says. Export markets are providing a source of business for manufacturers, especially in China and other parts of Asia where economic activity is strong. Even in India itself, “it’s not like the whole economy has stopped,” Burger says.
The crisis offers lessons for all countries as they work to mitigate the impact of future pandemics. “You have to be prepared for the unexpected,” Burger says. “After the first wave, preparations for the second didn’t start early enough in India and other countries.” In addition, supply chains need to diversify sourcing to offset the impact of disasters that strike particular suppliers and regions.
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