Student Opinion: The COVID-19 Crisis In India Is A Moral Crisis For Us


By Jacob Derin

The Indian COVID-19 crisis is reaching a critical point, one the United States was forced to contend with a few months ago. The strain on the Indian healthcare system is beginning to take its toll. As the United States, Israel and other countries continue to push forward with their vaccination campaigns, some parts of the world have been badly left behind.

The Biden Administration recently shipped supplies to India to help alleviate the crisis. Will it be enough? Only time will tell, but if current trends are any indication, the answer is a resounding “no.”

As reported cases skyrocket across the country, the official numbers are almost certainly an undercount in a country of nearly 1.4 billion. This is a good time for countries with (relatively) successful vaccination campaigns to ask, “are we doing enough?”

Aside from the plain humanitarian reasons for supporting India, there are rational reasons to do so out of pure self-interest. Any reservoir of COVID-19 is a place where new variants can emerge. And we don’t really know how long immunity from the vaccines lasts. A large population of infected people could easily start the pandemic all over again when protection from the vaccines wears off.

We can and should make plans for booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine; however, if the disastrous vaccine rollout last time around is any indication of the future, I wouldn’t stake my life on it. Incidentally, that’s precisely what I would be doing.

The humanitarian aid the U.S. and other countries have shipped to India thus far is a good start. However, it won’t be nearly enough to stem the tide of death and horror resulting from the Indian healthcare system buckling altogether. It is currently showing some signs of doing so.

Just months ago, the United States recorded thousands of COVID-19 deaths a day, and it could be justifiably ranked among the hardest-hit countries. Now that the vaccination campaign has begun to turn the tide, the consequentialist calculus has shifted dramatically. Dollar for dollar and shot for shot, COVID-fighting resources will spare more death and suffering in India than they will almost anywhere else at the moment.

I don’t mean to suggest that governments abandon their respective duties to their own citizens to give this aid, but they can and should be doing more than they are. One simple yet surprisingly difficult step we could take would be to release the patent on Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines.

The purpose of the patent system, to incentivize and reward innovation, has been served. Now the moral calculus weighing intellectual property on the one hand and potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths on the other seems pretty straightforward. At least it is to me. But maybe my math skills have slipped during the lockdowns.

The pandemic is reaching a delicate point at which the disparities in its effects will be genuinely stark. Wealthy, technologically sophisticated counties will be able to control and contain it (at least for now), while less fortunate societies will be wracked with misery. Anything we can do to avoid this outcome is an unmitigated good.

Jacob Derin is a third-year English and Philosophy major at UC Davis.

Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link:


About The Author

Related posts

5 thoughts on “Student Opinion: The COVID-19 Crisis In India Is A Moral Crisis For Us”

  1. Chris Griffith

    You know from what I’ve read

    7 out of 100,000 people in India died from COVID in the last 18 months.


    180+ infants per 100,000 births die in the first 5 years of life due to the lack of medical resources

    16+ people per 100,000 annually simply die due to a lack of water in India with an order of magnitude more dying from lack of all water-related issues (sanitation, cholera etc)

    150+ people per 100,000 die from tuberculosis and 50+ die from malaria annually


    When a disease that hits primarily people which are obese or over 65, a country with food shortages and an average life expectancy of 67 isn’t really a prime target. Sure every death is a tragedy, but how will they roll out vaccines if they can’t even get an MMR or polio vaccine to most of their children

    Why are we singling out India there’s lots of other countries out there in the same pickle.

    I know that it’s simply human nature to save the planet and to save everybody on the damn planet for that matter but could this possibly be just mother nature taking its course trying to control a population on the face of this planet.


    1. Bill Marshall

      population of india – Bing

      A small percentage of a big number can be a very big number… a large percentage of a small number is still a small number… and that’s even assuming your “rates” are correct, Chris G, and I always suspect numbers/statistics cited by folk starting out by saying,

      You know from what I’ve read… (with no other citations)

      I tend to agree with Alan, below (if I catch his drift, correctly)… who freaking cares if “intellectual property rights” are sacrificed, if India and other countries avoid decimation?  If nothing else, think of all the additional GHG emissions (affecting us all, theoretically) by using wood, other based fuels, to cremate (another carbon-based ‘substance’), to avoid a worse outcome… rotting corpses which will increase water and airborne disease, causing yet more collateral deaths, and the repeat consequences of that (see above)…


      1. Alan Miller

        Yeah.  I feel like I’m missing something, either that or big pharma is the most evil corporate entity on the planet.  And I’m believing the latter.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for