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Turning the Tide: Is Mumbai Ready for the Next Wave?

Mumbai’s unique health service delivery system is led by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and aided by a robust private hospital network. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Mumbai health system to undergo rapid adaptation and transformation to combat its impacts.

The city’s first case was recorded in March 2020, and its first wave peaked in September 2020 and flattened by January 2021. A second wave hit in March 2021, peaking in April. Based on past pandemic patterns, the findings of Mumbai’s four rounds of sero-survey, and global examples, the possibility of the third wave cannot be ruled out. While vaccination is the only viable solution to this crisis, only 13.7 percent of Mumbai’s above-18 population have been fully vaccinated and about 38 percent has received the first dose (as of 7 July 2021). The city’s estimated adult population is over 9 million.

‘Turning the Tide: Is Mumbai Ready for the Next Wave?’, a report by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Mumbai, traces the intricacies of managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the city. It captures lessons and learnings from existing innovations and hurdles encountered during the first two waves of the pandemic and presents factors to reimagine Mumbai’s response to a potential third wave.

The report looks at the specifics of the first and second wave, detailing lessons learnt from issues related to oxygen, and medicine supply and vaccination. It also considers hidden groups—migrants, crematorium and graveyard staff, and ASHA workers—who bore the brunt of the crisis.

Further, it details other crucial aspects of COVID-19 management—technology and the associated challenges; the importance of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) in fortifying the city; and learnings from global successes in pandemic handling.

‘Turning the Tide’ is an attempt to complement the existing research in dealing with the pandemic. Deliberations with over 20 government, medical, tech and media experts, along with a study of media reports and government communication formed the basis of this analysis. Important learnings were also drawn from the MCGM’s June 2021 report titled ‘Principles of Medical Management of COVID-19: The MCGM Experience’ that acts as a guide for medical practitioners involved in pandemic management.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


Sayli UdasMankikar

Sayli UdasMankikar

Sayli UdasMankikar was a Senior Fellow with the ORF's political economy programme. She works on issues related to sustainable urbanisation with special focus on urban ...

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