There may be many root causes to India’s failure against the second wave – yet, two that stand out are the apathy of government in anticipating and preparing for the surge and the people themselves getting ahead of the logic dictated by science and data. Both these, burdening an archaic and crumbling health infrastructure.

The initial hesitancy based on unsubstantiated and unscientific fears of the immunisation may also have led to a distorted vaccine procurement policy leading to the current vaccine shortage. And now, it has unwittingly deprived many citizens of the life-saving vaccine and even threatens to dilute the most effective measure available to break the chain.

Our grantees bring you the stories of eschewing the vaccine and the resort to unproven traditional medicines and home remedies. A situation that the government has done precious little to counter.

ThePrint reports from Tamil Nadu where the death of a popular actor from cardiac arrest a day after his vaccination has induced fresh anxieties on top of the legacy of vaccine hesitancy in the state. This, when doctors asserted that there was no correlation between the jab and his death.

Kashmir Observer reports that myths percolating about the vaccine in the Valley – its impact on fertility and menstruation - have meant that less than half of the women have taken the jab as compared to men. Adding to the generally prevalent gender inequities in the UT.

In the hinterlands too, the hesitancy is widespread. Khabar Lahariya reports from the Banda district in Uttar Pradesh of whole villages abstaining from the vaccine fearing the “jab of death”.

In other stories, The India Forum delves into the severe and rampant undercounting of Covid fatalities in India. It argues that undercounting in the first wave may have been responsible for the “complacency” and apathy that marked the government’s response to the second wave. Urgent measures are needed if we are to go anywhere near finding an adequate response to the ongoing calamity.

And, The Bastion reports from Yamuna Khadar, an informal settlement in Delhi, where the digital divide is playing out. A significant number of citizens are left out of the vaccine programme as they are struggling to register on the CoWin app because they cannot operate their phone or do not have one.

For these and more stories on the tragedy that has befallen India, please read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Actor’s death fuels vaccine hesitancy in Tamil Nadu amid Covid surge, misinformation adds fire

Tamil Nadu’s Covid vaccination numbers trail the national average, and the state has been traditionally dogged by vaccine hesitancy. What has added to the fears, ThePrint reports, is the death of the popular comic actor Vivekh a day after he got himself vaccinated. Though doctors attributed his demise to cardiac arrest and clarified that his death has no correlation with the vaccine, the incident has prompted a fresh bout of vaccine fears across the state.

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Gendered Vaccination: Less Women are Getting Vaccinated in Kashmir

While women in Kashmir are up there in general vaccination with the rest of the country, in Covid vaccinations the story is different. Fewer women are getting inoculated compared to men. In Srinagar district, for instance, only 29 per cent of women have got the jab against 71 per cent of men. The story is the same in Kupwara. The reason, says Kashmir Observer, is the vaccine hesitancy amidst rumours of it impacting fertility and menstruation.

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गांवों में वैक्सीन की अफवाहें कही भयानक रूप न ले |

Khabar Lahariya reports from Jarela village, about 70-km from Banda in Uttar Pradesh, where widespread fears of vaccination is rampant. Rumours of two people falling sick and the death of a person following his vaccination have fuelled panic in the village. As a result, not a single resident of the village is willing to take the jab.

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Estimating Covid-19 Fatalities in India

The India Forum argues that India's recorded Covid-19 fatalities seem a gross underestimate. If India is to fight the Covid battle effectively, a more accurate and credible number of actual fatalities are critical. In fact, the low record of fatalities in the first wave may explain the “complacency” which led to the catastrophe, as India was caught unprepared and napping.

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The Struggles of Registering for COVID-19 Vaccines in Delhi’s Yamuna Khadar

The Bastion takes us to Yamuna Khadar, an informal settlement in northeast Delhi, where the inability to access the CoWin app – due to lack of know-how or the lack of access to a cell phone – is depriving many of the life-saving vaccination. This digital divide, it says, is prevalent across the country.

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