Covid may lose sting soon but humps of Covid waste will haunt for decades

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: India

Publishing organisation: India Today

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-02-03

Language: English

Authors: Author – Samrat Sharma; Designers – Jaipal Sharma, Mudita Singh


Samrat Sharma is an investigative and data journalist. He has spent around 6 years in the industry. At present, he is a part of India Today’s Data Intelligence Unit (DIU). Academically, he is a mechanical engineer and has pursued Master of Business Administration.

Jaipal Sharma and Mudita Singh are working as Data Visualisers in India Today’s Data Intelligence Unit.

Project description:

The coronavirus may lose its sting in the near future, but the medical waste it has already generated and continues to leave behind may take decades to decompose. The unprecedented magnitude of the infection led to the manufacture of an extraordinary volume of masks, protective equipment, vaccines and related paraphernalia, and testing kits. Valuable as they have been in checking the further spread of the virus, these products have added significantly to the medical waste generated across the world. India generated around 101 tonnes of Covid-19-related medical waste per day during the first wave of the pandemic.

Impact reached:

The story brought in light the extent of collateral damage coronavirus is bringing to the society. On one hand, we are doing everything to contain the spread of the virus but the masks, gloves, PPE kits and the other waste that we are generating may take decades to degrade and will remain with us even when the virus has been contained.

Techniques/technologies used:

Data visualisation tool has been used to create map, image editing softwares have been used to create infographics and excel and google sheets have been used to process data.

Context about the project:

This project goes beyond the unilateral vision of working to fight the near-term danger. The unrest caused from the coronavirus has surfaced very recently in 2020, however the dire need to fight the spread of plastic waste has been for decades. While the governments and societies worked on a mission mode to fight Covid, they did a massive collateral damage to the planet.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

Message for other journalists is to have a multilaateral vision and cover aspects that are important but are making fewer headlines. Sustainable solution is the key for bringing changes to the society. What is the benefit if we found the short-term solution but pushed the upcoming generation into a life we don’t want for ourselves.

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