Noting that the world appreciates the resolve shown by India in dealing with the surge of cases in the second wave of COVID-19, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday that demand for medical oxygen went up eight-nine times and “we have come through test of fire”.
Addressing CII Annual Meeting 2021, Mr Jaishankar said the scale, intensity, seriousness of the second wave of the pandemic was something very difficult to anticipate.
“Initially, the world looked at us and wondered how any country could deal with this kind of caseload and severity of pandemic…Where we are today, I think the world understands and appreciates that we have pulled up our socks, shown national resolve. We’ve come through test of fire,” he said.
“When the second wave hit us, that was a very different situation. The scale, intensity, seriousness was something very difficult to anticipate. Particularly because of the delta variant, it had some very specific implications in terms of oxygen demand which went up 8-9 times,” he added.
He said India helped other countries in the first wave and the gesture was reciprocated when India saw a large number of cases in the second wave.
“Just like we helped others in the first wave, I think the world stood by us in many respects in the second wave, especially in terms of oxygen supply, oxygenators, medicines,” he said.
Referring to the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, Mr Jaishankar said that the country ramped up its medical infrastructure.
“In that period (when COVID first spread) we stood out for two reasons – one, we were decisive and largely effective in what we did. COVID caught us when our health infrastructure was very rudimentary, especially in terms of what we needed to do for COVID,” he said.
“All of that was erected out of nothing at that time and everybody stepped forward, I think industry did a magnificent job, government did everything it could to motivate people to get everybody to understand the seriousness of what happened,” he added.
The minister said India stepped out, helped others, sent out medicines, sent out medical teams, kept food supplies going for those for whom this was very important, like the Gulf.
“So there was a lot. Today I get expressions of gratitude for what we did during that period,” he said.