Statement: Why India's Second Wave is a Sobering Reminder

Mercy Corps issued the below statement from Ram Kishan, Mercy Corps Deputy Country Director for Asia, on the devastating second wave of COVID-19 in India:

"As higher-income countries inch closer to vaccinating the majority of their populations, the catastrophic second wave of COVID-19 in India -- where only 10% of the population has been vaccinated -- is a sobering reminder that we are nowhere near eradicating this global threat. This virus is a formidable opponent for even the best prepared. The longer countries wait for vaccines, the greater chance the virus will continue to spread unchecked, and we’ll continue to see new variants that are potentially more contagious, more deadly and more resistant to current vaccines. The “double mutant” variant in India has already been found in at least 17 other countries, and we are deeply concerned that similarly devastating waves may hit other countries in the region. Nepal is already seeing worrying spikes in COVID-19 cases.

"Since the initial reports of COVID in India last year, Mercy Corps India has reached more than 100,000 people with awareness campaigns to share accurate health information as well as distribute hygiene kits and improve access to clean water and latrines. Many people that we work with initially reported hearing incorrectly that COVID‑19 was caused by mosquito bites, as malaria and dengue are spread. 

"It’s vital we tackle this kind of misinformation by providing communities with evidence-based information so they can protect themselves and prevent the virus’ spread. Mercy Corps teams across the region are working to get ahead of new waves, but the virus doesn’t respect borders -- we can’t predict where the greatest need will be next."