Glimmer of Hope

IN first signs that the Covid-19 curve may have reached its peak, around 200 districts have been reporting a decline in cases for the last two weeks. Similarly, the positivity rate has also registered a decline over the past seven days. This was the first seven-day period since February 16-22 that the country reported a decline in case positivity over the preceding seven-day period. This has also been acknowledged by the head of India’s Covid-19 Task Force, Dr V K Paul. The “pandemic curve is stabilising,” Paul said adding the contagion is “shrinking overall”. This is a good news as the virulence of the second wave has wrought havoc. Thousands have died and so many families have been destroyed.

There are, however, still states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha where the cases are still spiking. Hopefully, the cases in the states will also reach their peak soon. But as Paul has also cautioned the decline in the number of cases is only an early indication of the situation being on the mend. Any complacency in following the SOPs, containment and testing could result in a renewed surge.

But while the union government enforces containment and the SOPs, the speedy vaccination is the only viable solution to the lingering crisis. But the vaccines are running out. In Kashmir, there has been a vaccine shortage for the last several days. Similarly, there has been an acute shortage of jabs in other parts of the country. The vaccination over the last 100 days has been a tardy affair and signals India is in for a long haul. According to an estimate, around 94.5 crore people need to be given two shots of Covishield or Covaxin for herd immunity which means a requirement of 189 crore vaccine doses. But going by the average so far, the daily supply of vaccines is 15 lakh or 4.5 crores each month. At this rate, India could take another 3.5 years to inoculate 70 per cent of its population. This would be a long time and the country could hardly afford it. Moreover, this would make people vulnerable to yet another Covid-19 wave and which alarmingly is anticipated to even infect children.

So, we need vaccines. But as of now there’s only one company manufacturing vaccines. So, as Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has suggested there’s a need for more pharma companies to make Covid-19 vaccines. The suggestion was earlier made by the former prime minister Manmohan Singh to the government. This is the only viable way the shortfall of the vaccines could be addressed. Sooner we vaccine people, earlier we could emerge from this catastrophe and reopen the economy.

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