Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s comments on COVID-19 and modern medicine have outraged Indians on and offline. Baba Ramdev has quite a following on social media but it’s not the first time people are shaking their heads at his remarks. Ramdev has a reputation for making controversial, unscientific remarks. Earlier, he had mocked COVID patients looking for oxygen cylinders. And his recent comments have caused a huge outcry – especially from the medical community, which is still battling a ferocious second wave of infections. The yogi withdrew his comments after criticism by India’s health minister. The Indian Medical Association is urging Prime Minister Modi “to stop the misinformation campaign on vaccination by mister Ramdev.”
The yoga guru has also advertised a supposed COVID-19 cure among a whole range of other ayurvedic products. Marketing ‘Coronil’ as a COVID-19 remedy had to stop last year when the government said there was no data to prove it works. But recently the state of Haryana
announced they’d distribute the product for free to COVID patients.
Doctors are speaking out against this move, saying it sends the wrong message about how to treat COVID-19. This is especially dangerous at a time when the disease is spreading fast in rural areas, where there are extremely limited healthcare facilities and where misinformation and myths abound.
In rural areas many are hesitant to get vaccinated for fear of negative side effects.
Hesitancy is only one factor hampering vaccination efforts. Medical facilities providing vaccines are often scarce, with the closest hospitals hours away. And only about half of India’s population has internet access, making access to vaccination appointments hard to come by for many.
Rural areas are severely lagging behind the big cities. Lack of personnel and infrastructure is hampering efforts to distribute vaccines to more remote areas.
But there’s an even bigger problem: a major shortage of vaccine doses nationwide. Only around three percent of nearly 1.4 billion people have been fully vaccinated. To increase the number of
doses available domestically, the government has canceled international exports and has ramped up funding for local vaccine production. But many say more needs to be done
Scientists have already warned the government that a third wave is inevitable. They say now is the time to prepare – by working on awareness, boosting healthcare infrastructure and increasing vaccine supplies. Nobody wants to see a repeat of the situation the country faced when the second wave began.
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