COVID-19 | Centre couldn’t accurately anticipate gravity of pandemic resurgence, subsequent waves: Parliamentary panel

Parliamentary panel recommends audit of ‘deaths due to oxygen shortage’

Updated - September 13, 2022 08:46 pm IST

Published - September 13, 2022 01:14 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

A man walks after cremating his relative who died of COVID-19, at a crematorium in New Delhi on April 28, 2021.

A man walks after cremating his relative who died of COVID-19, at a crematorium in New Delhi on April 28, 2021. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Central Government could not accurately anticipate the gravity of the possible resurgence of the Covid pandemic and its subsequent waves, said the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health & Family Welfare in its report “Vaccine Development, Distribution Management and Mitigation of Pandemic COVID-19’’.

It added that it is disturbed at the unfortunate denial of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding Covid-deaths due to oxygen shortage in the country.

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The Committee said that there were no definite guidelines for identifying the deaths due to inadequate supply of oxygen.

“Oxygen shortage is not noted as a cause of death in the medical records and most of the deaths were attributed to co-morbidities. The Committee is disappointed at this utter ignorance by the government and strongly recommends the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to examine the number of deaths due to oxygen shortage, especially during the second wave of Covid,’’ it said.

It has now recommended that the Ministry, in coordination with the States, must audit the deaths due to oxygen shortage and enable robust documentation of the Covid deaths that will in fact generate a responsive and responsible sense of government and cautious formulation of policy and combat situational health care emergencies. The Committee further expects more transparency and more accountability from the Government agencies. The Ministry must meticulously examine the oxygen-stricken Covid deaths and ensure that proper compensation is accorded to the families of the victims, it noted.

The Committee headed by Professor Ram Gopal Yadav, M.P., Rajya Sabha presented the report on September 12 to Chairman, Rajya Sabha.

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Speaking about the second wave the Committee said that “even when the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the country registered a decline in the aftermath of the first wave, the government should have continued its efforts to monitor the resurgence of COVID-19 situation and its possible outrage in the country”.

It added that despite the Health Ministry’s repeated caution to maintain the vigil many States were unable to cope with the arising uncertainties and medical emergencies in the wake of the pandemic resurgence of COVID-19 during the second wave that caused more than 5 lakh registered deaths.

The Committee observed that India is one of the countries with the heaviest burden of COVID-19 cases in the world. The enormity of the population of the country posed a major challenge in the face of the pandemic.

With the fragile health infrastructure and the huge shortage of healthcare workers, the country witnessed tremendous pressure, it said.

The Committee added that it has taken into account that there is still a lack of concrete evidence on whether the coronavirus reached humans via a laboratory incident and said that India should look into the biosafety and biosecurity issues. It has also recommended that genome sequencing be made part of an effective virus containment strategy and appreciated the Government’s role in providing Covid-19 testing infrastructure in the country.

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