Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi cautioning him against the possibility of more mutated strains of the coronavirus originating in India.
“The pandemic has demonstrated that our size, genetic diversity and complexity make India a fertile ground for the virus to rapidly mutate, transforming itself into a more contagious and more dangerous form,” Gandhi wrote. “The double and triple mutant strains that we are currently grappling with are only the beginning, I fear.”
The Congress leader warned that the spread of the virus in India could prove to be “devastating” for the rest of the world too.
Gandhi urged the central government to track the virus and its mutations through genome sequencing, assess efficacy of vaccines against various strains and keep the rest of the world informed about the findings.
Gandhi criticised the government for its “lack of clear and coherent Covid and vaccination strategy”, and made an appeal to inoculate the country’s entire population rapidly.
The Modi-led administration has been widely criticised for opening up vaccination for all adults, without a proper supply schedule from manufacturers. Several states have had to delay the third phase of vaccination as enough supplies are not available to handle the burden of inoculating nearly 60 crore citizens in the 18-44 age group who became eligible to receive the jab from May 1.
In his letter, Gandhi said it was “hubris” on government’s part to declare “premature victory” against the virus. “Today the disease is growing explosively,” Gandhi wrote. “It is currently on the verge of overwhelming all of our systems. [The] GOI’s [government of India] failures have made another devastating national lockdown almost inevitable.”
Gandhi suggested that if indeed the government imposes a lockdown like last year, it should “provide critical financial and food support” to the poorer sections. The Congress party has been demanding a financial assistance of Rs 6,000 per month to support the poorest in the country.
The former Congress president’s letter came after India on Friday recorded 4,14,188 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections in the country to 2,14,91,598 since the pandemic broke out last year. This is the highest rise in daily cases and the third instance, after May 1, when the count rose by more than 4 lakh. The toll climbed by 3,915 deaths to 2,34,083