‘We are not special’: how triumphalism led India to Covid-19 disaster

Huge surge in cases followed erroneous ‘supermodelling’ study suggesting herd immunity had been achieved

They will be remembered as India’s lost months: the stretch between September and February when Covid-19 cases in the country defied global trends, falling sharply throughout the coldest months of the year until they reached four-figure daily totals.

It was inexplicable. Was it the Indian climate? A protection conferred by childhood immunisations? Some speculated India may have naturally reached herd immunity. It was a tantalising idea that took hold in India’s highest circles of policymaking, media and science – even a government-commissioned study suggested herd immunity may indeed have been achieved. It would prove one of the most fatal miscalculations of the Covid-19 pandemic so far.

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