Covid-19 second wave caught us by surprise, India was not ready: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman | Deccan Herald

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The issue of limited medical infrastructure was addressed in the February 2021 Budget, she said

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Credit: PTI File Photo

While acknowledging that the second wave had caught India by surprise, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and experts on Saturday said India must recover and rehabilitate in the wake of the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Speaking at a specially organized conclave of experts organized by the IIMB Alumni Association, FM Sitharaman admitted that the preparation for the second wave “was just not adequate.”

The theme of the discussion was recovery, rehabilitation and prevention after the second wave.

One of the problems, according to Prof Gagandeep Kang, a clinical scientist at CMC Vellore was that nobody in India “anticipated that the vaccines would be required so quickly.” 

Read more: GST Council waives off IGST on import of Covid-19 relief items till August 31, 2021

The scientist said that the immunization programme had a slow rollout during the first several weeks before it became evident that the country needed to be faster with vaccines.

“But it is not easy to do, because supply chains are set up to handle only so much. We did an estimation this time last year and anticipated that about two-and-a-half billion extra doses could be made in 2021. However, a lot of effort on the part of multilateral agencies and governments has resulted in a situation where we think that we will actually have six billion or more doses of vaccine this year,” she said. 

Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman and Executive Director of Narayana Health, said vaccination is the cheapest, safest and the best protection against Covid-19.  

While he added that we must take precautions to prevent children from being infected, he stressed that one of the more important requirements for containment is increased medical staff. 

“Everyone thinks that we need to build more hospitals, but building a hospital is not going to solve the problem. Why? It is not the cost of building the hospital which is preventing people from building the hospital, it is the lack of doctors. We are struggling to offer health care to the Covid patients because we are terribly short of doctors, nurses and medical technicians,” he said. 

The issue of limited medical infrastructure was addressed in the February 2021 Budget, added the Finance Minister. 

FM Sitharaman stated that the Budget focused on not only taking care of the poor but also the infrastructure while extending support to the organized and unorganized sectors. 

“The two large and emphatic announcements of the budget were for increasing the capital expenditure for infrastructure. Also, we increased the capital expenditure for health infrastructure. At one goal, we are making sure that the medical infrastructure doesn’t become the province of metropolitan cities, but that it shall go down to the level of the blocks. The aim is also ensuring that human resources are going to be available,” she said.

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