As pandemic Wanes

IN a sign that the second Covid-19 wave is winding down, the union health ministry has said that India’s total recoveries have risen to 3.06 crore.  The active cases are now 27 percent of total caseload. On Wednesday, India reported a single day rise of 43,654 Covid cases and 640 deaths pushing the country’s total tally to 3.15 crore. The progressively decreasing trend of infections, with some exceptions,  is proof that the devastating second wave is on its way out.

That said, the pandemic 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 early in July, the third wave may rear its head from the middle of August, coming around 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 already increased the gap between two vaccine doses to 12 to 16 weeks from six to eight weeks. 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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