India's GDP numbers that came on Friday showing a contraction of 7.5 percent in the September quarter have indicated that the country has shown a sign of recovery amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The gross domestic product (GDP) had contracted by a record 23.9 percent in the first quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal (April 2020 to March 2021) as the coronavirus lockdown pummelled economic activity.
However, the economy recovered faster than expected in the September quarter as a pick-up in manufacturing helped GDP clock a lower contraction of 7.5 percent. As per the available data, manufacturing industry numbers have grown by 0.6 percent in Q2 as compared to a contraction of (-) 39.3 percent in Q1.
The GDP data has also shown that India is recovering better than other countries. Here is the data of GDP growth in prominent G20 economies, which show that India’s position is better:Table: GDP Growth (%) Across Prominent G20 Economies
|Country||Q1 of 2020-21||Q2 of 2020-21|
A major reason behind the improved GDP data of India is the decisions taken by the central government during the initial phase of the coronavirus infection in the country, as it was among the quickest to react to the contagion at the government and institutional level.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The decisions also helped in containing the exponential spread of the deadly disease. Although India is the world’s second worst-affected country from COVID-19, the true measure of a country’s performance is the number of cases per million.
As of November 28, India has 6,731 cases per million population. However, the United States has 40,000 cases per million, United Kingdom has 23,361 cases, France has 33,424 cases, Brazil has 29,129 cases and Italy has 25,456 cases.
Here are a few steps that helped India in containing exponential spread:
> Acting early
The country had a mission meeting on January 8 about the novel coronavirus infection, just a day after China notified the world about it. The screening on international travellers was started from January 17. The first COVID-19 cases reported in India on January 30.
> COVID-19 testing
To detect the infection, India was among the first countries to introduce Rapid Antigen Tests along with Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.
> Social distancing
In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he would not join any Holi gathering since the scientific advice was to stay away from social gatherings due to coronavirus infection. At this point of time, India did not even have 50 COVID-19 cases. However, the PM’s decision conveyed the seriousness of the situation to the people.
> Face masks
In April, large part of the country had made wearing of face masks mandatory. The world Health Organization (WHO) waited till June before recommending the use of masks.
India called for a complete lockdown on March 24 when the country had just about 500 COVID-19 cases. The decision changed India’s trajectory.
> Healthcare infrastructureThe lockdown was utilised to create 15,362 dedicated COVID-19 health facilities, about 15.40 lakh isolation beds, 2.70 lakh oxygen supported beds and 78,000 ICU beds.