Even amid soaring COVID-19 cases in India, the world’s largest religious festival has brought massive crowds gathered “cheek by jowl” on the banks of the river Ganges this week, Hindustan Times reports via AFP.
The virus was detected in more than 1,000 people in just 48 hours in the city of Haridwar as Hindu worshippers flocked there in observance of Kumbh Mela.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government refused to call off the month-long festival, Reuters reports.
Behind India’s devastating latest wave of cases and deaths are a slew of familiar government failings: “official arrogance, hyper-nationalism, populism and an ample dose of bureaucratic incompetence,” writes Mihir Sharma in a Bloomberg op-ed.
- Boasting that it had bent the curve “like Beckham” after last year’s lockdown
- Pushing out domestic vaccines before Phase III data was available
- Insisting on domestic clinical trials of jabs already approved elsewhere, such as Pfizer’s
- Strangling vaccine producers with price controls
These missteps also mean delays for developing nations counting on the “pharmacy of the world” to deliver their COVID-19 vaccines.