WHO blames ‘perfect storm’ of factors for India Covid crisis


Health body says mass gatherings, low vaccination rates and more contagious variants all to blame for surge in cases

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said India’s deadly Covid-19 second wave was caused by a “perfect storm” of mass gatherings, low vaccination rates and more contagious variants.

Speaking on Tuesday, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević warned against blaming mutations of the virus as the sole cause of the tsunami of cases that have engulfed India in recent weeks, pushing the country’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse, and said that complacent behaviour had also played a role.

One coronavirus variant found to be circulating in India, the B1617 variant with two mutations, is thought to be more infectious, according to some preliminary science and anecdotal accounts from doctors on the frontline.

“The extent to which these virus changes are responsible for the rapid increase in cases in the country remains unclear, as there are other factors such as recent large gatherings that may have contributed to the rise,” said Jašarević.

The WHO also said unnecessary pressure was being put on India’s healthcare system by people who were going to hospitals in a panic when they could recover from Covid-19 at home. Jašarević emphasised that only around 15% of Covid-19 patients required treatment in hospital and urged efficient screening and triage of patients to ensure people received the care they needed.


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