Failures in the COVID-19 Pandemic — What’s Next for Us?

SELCO Foundation
3 min readFeb 24, 2023

The Failures of COVID-19 were highlighted during a panel that focused on highlighting the failures that happened during the pandemic from different stakeholder perspectives. The speakers for the session included Dr Suresh Kumar, Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre, Dr Rajani Bhat, Public Health Specialist, Pulmonologist, Sanjiv Chhabria, Consultant at Stepone, Dr Vijay Chandru, academic and entrepreneur, Nagakarthik M P, founder of Sauramandala Foundation, and Rajeev Sadanandan, CEO, Health System Transformation Platform, and was moderated by Shama Karkal, CEO, Swasti. The session was opened by

Dr. Suresh Kumar highlighted how the COVID-19 crisis exposed the vulnerability of systems, and identified three important gaps — disaster preparedness as a basic response system was lacking in many parts of the country, approach to end-of-life care as people died in isolation and not much attention was paid to the quality of life, and the management of data as there was no system to systematically analyse and share data.

During any disaster what helps is the system and process to offer basic services, data is also crucial and should guide the protocol. Dr. Rajani Bhat showed that almost all guidelines formulated during COVID-19 were not based on data. Guidelines were focused on what to do instead of on what not to do. She shared, “Inappropriate tests, hospitalisation and medications from the medical community were three areas that were very disturbing. As a result, the inappropriate use or prescription of steroids led to the occurrence black fungus. Furthermore, the media was also called to question as they amplified messages that projected a dire situation like no oxygen, no beds in hospitals, which resulted in panic among the people.”

The pandemic highlighted the failures of the health systems, particularly for people who needed constant care. Nagakarthik said, “When we reflect on what the last year has been like, we see a lot of failures, from how we started and how the system is structured. A lot of the response was based on what was happening in Delhi and Bangalore, but we were catering to a different context. And those solutions did not make sense. We were going from a solution perspective that there was a shortage of vaccines. But we get to know in a closed room discussion that vaccines were available, cold chain was available, but syringes were not available, so we decided to fund syringes.”

Are we ready for the next pandemic? It is an emphatic no, said Sanjiv Chabria. He continued, “A key component of what we learnt is that triaging does not require a doctor. Let’s make sure we provide doctors with enough time to deal with people who need their attention.” In his closing session, Rajeev Sadanandan, added,

“It is not about COVID-preparedness, it’s the everyday resilience. The cost of social and economic disruption was far more than any level of disruption that preparation for COVID-19 demanded.”

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SELCO Foundation

SELCO Foundation seeks to inspire and implement solutions that alleviate poverty by improving access to sustainable energy to underserved communities.