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What Makes India’s Second Wave Of Covid 19 So Terrible?

The second wave has created deeper anxiety with the latest figure of more than 3,16,000 new cases per day while the state of Maharashtra ranks highest in the number of cases. Within a span of 17 days the county’s capital has crossed 29,000 positive cases. The Lancet Commission has stated that the second wave is different from the first wave in two ways. One, where the rate of increase of new cases is significantly higher in the second wave. The second is that many more of the cases testing positive are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic which ultimately results in low rates of hospitalization and mortality otherwise our healthcare systems would have collapsed by now.

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Acute shortage of ICU beds and oxygen and essential drugs medical staff are being experienced in hospitals across the country. The Lancet Commission report had predicted that India may soar past 2,200 cases per day if we fail in breaking the virus transmission rate and reduce the number of cases. 

Inorder to grim the present scenario, we need to first carefully examine what are the challenges and lacune in our strategy to fight corona virus infection.

Top medical experts have suggested two important measures in the current scenario. One is vaccinating people at an accelerated rate and the second is to strictly observe Covid 19 protocols.

Considering the first measure, the nation is facing a big challenge. Some people believe that vaccination can lead to  many other problems as the vaccines are developed without much research.

We need to remember that in such cases the side effects would be extremely low but the benefits far out-weigh any adverse effects. They are unaware of the fact that world scientists have valuable insights learnt from research carried out on Sar-Cov-2 since 2001 when SARS broke out and MERS a few years later.

People assume that the vaccine generated immunity is only short-lived though ICMR has said that only a tiny fraction 0.02-0.04 per cent ( 2 of 4 persons out of 10,000). The misconceptions affect the vaccination drive and hence lead to increased spread of infection.

People need to get rid of such thoughts and come forward to get vaccinated. The centre should launch well designated awareness campaigns by involving NGOs and other suitable agencies. People should  conceive that vaccination is the right and most appropriate method at present to defeat the virus.

Countries such as Israel, US and UK have vaccinated large populations and the new infected cases have come down sharply. 

Countries like Brazil, Russia, South Africa and some EU countries have also reduced the number of infections by  vaccinating a majority of people.

Since the younger generations are more forward looking, it should be encouraged that people above 18 years of age should be vaccinated from May 1. There exist well founded fear of shortage of vaccination doses as the existing manufacturing capacity of two Indian Vaccine makers- Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech- are about 60 million and 5 million doses per month and not at all sufficient for India’s population.

It is relieving to hear that the centre is advancing Rs.3,000 crore and Rs.1,000 crore to the SII and Biotech to ramp up their production and is going to clear clear brands okayed in US, UK, EU and Japan or under WHO’s emergency listing and some Indian private companies are being involved in making their vaccines. This can be done only after removing all procedural, financial and other hurdles. 

Wearing masks correctly, observing social distancing in public places and regular washing of hands with soap is another weapon to fight the ear against Covid 19.  It is extremely sad to see that the covid protocols have been thrown to the wind. Vaccine would work only when the protocols are followed strictly. 

Political parties and centre too have given a bad account of themselves by permitting political rallies and  religious congregations where all COVID 19 protocols were violated.

The behaviour of both people and government equally matter. Hence it is necessary that precautions are followed and vaccinations reach a maximum number of people.

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