Pre-empt Third Wave

INDIA witnessed a single day rise of 34,703 coronavirus infections, on Tuesday which is the lowest in 111 days.  The progressively decreasing trend of infections is proof that the devastating second wave is waning and may soon send. The active cases have now  further declined to 4,64,357 and the fatalities have reduced to 553, the lowest in 91 days.
That said, the Covid-19 is not over yet. India could still see the much-feared third wave of the pandemic  sooner than later According to a report by the State Bank of India, the third wave may rear its head from the middle of August, following while the country is still fighting the second wave.
But for now we can take heart from the fact that the infections are decreasing. The drop has come amid the easing of the curbs on movement and hence is all the more welcome. But while the second wave is easing, the vaccination is not picking up commensurately leaving India vulnerable to a third wave. India has now increased the gap between two Covishield doses to 12 to 16 weeks from six to eight weeks. The health ministry in its statement on May 13 had said that it had accepted the 12-16 weeks recommendation from the COVID working group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), and from a group of mainly government officials tasked with vaccine administration. This was mainly done to compensate for the shortfall of the vaccines and to inoculate more people with the first dose.
There is a large number of the population above 65 years of age that has not received its second dose. Being in the high-risk and vulnerable group, the gap in their case needs to be urgently reduced. The government should make an exception for them.
At the same time, now that the government has got a grip on the second wave, care needs to be taken to pre-empt the third wave. While loosening the curbs to reopen the economy, the government has to strictly enforce the Standard Operating Procedure in public life. This should be done while simultaneously speeding up the vaccination in the country. This can only happen if more vaccines become available and the gap between the two doses is reduced.
Going forward, the government has to ensure that a Covid-appropriate behaviour is followed. The decreasing trend of the infections is a good news. The government should now build upon it by scaling up the production of vaccines. Much is at stake in India. The economy that was battered last year can’t afford one more year of disruption. Already lakhs of people are jobless or have had their incomes truncated. There’s no other option but to vaccinate a critical mass of people to get a handle on the pandemic.

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