Focus on Vaccination

THERE is fresh optimism in air on Covid-19 front following a marked decline in infections in India over the last week. On Monday, India recorded 1.06 cases, a drop of 12c percent from Sunday. Similarly, the positivity rate, which is the number of positive cases identified per 100, has dropped to 6.33 percent. During March and April the positivity rate had climbed to over 10 percent.

As a result, several states across the country are taking cautious steps towards reopening the economy. This is important as the beleaguered Indian economy will be further set back by a prolonged lockdown. Over the past few years, Indian economy has been performing well below even some sub-saharan countries. The advent of the pandemic last year and the consequent lockdown dealt a body blow to what was then a nascent recovery.

The decline in infections is a positive development. There is hope now that the daily caseload will progressively reduce like last year. But the consequent improvement in the situation would mean little if there is no corresponding expansion in the vaccination. More than 23 crore vaccine doses have so far been administered in India under the mega inoculation plan. However, many states continue to face shortage of the two vaccines currently being used.

Going forward, the government also needs to invest in a world class healthcare infrastructure to increase the capacity of the hospitals and the medical personnel to deal with the pandemic. There is also the need to continue to increase testing. And this has to be done alongside the measures to reopen the economy. Considering the terrible state of the economy, the state governments across India can hardly afford to extend the lockdown. The trick is to upgrade healthcare, expedite vaccination, enforce strict adherence to SOPs in public and run an advertisement blitz to create more awareness about the contagion.

In J&K, the situation on the vaccination front is not encouraging. The administration has failed to step up the drive. More so, at a time when due to the virulence of the second wave, people are coming forward to get jabs. The vaccine hesitancy that had earlier held back the inoculation drive has now given way to a frantic race to get vaccinated. And understandably so. The inoculation is now the only credible defence against the contagion as highlighted by prime minister Narendra Modi in his speech on Monday. And sooner the government vaccinates people against the infection, earlier we could return to a normal life. The poor sections of the society who have been most impacted by the pandemic need the pandemic to ease to return to their jobs.

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