Covid is Endemic Now

INDIA has so far administered at least 800 million Covid vaccine doses by Sunday. Last Friday, the country inoculated over 20 million people in a record-breaking effort to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday. The effort surpassed by far the country's previous daily record of more than 13 million doses on August 27. The union government hopes to vaccinate all of the country’s adult population by December and has so far given at least one dose to 61 percent of them. And with India getting close to vaccinating a substantial number of its population by the end of this year, the country wants to resume export of vaccines by next month.

The plan to export vaccines is also indicative of India’s confidence about having reigned in the pandemic. Ever since the catastrophic second Covid-19 wave that killed thousands of people, India has witnessed a progressive decline in the number of Covid cases.  India reported 30,256 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours. The country’s active caseload now stands at over three lakh.

But at the same time, the experts are saying that Covid-19 may be heading towards endemicity in India, According to noted vaccinologist Dr Gangandeep Kang the third wave will comprise the smaller local flare-ups, but the scale will not be like before. The endemic stage is when a population learns to live with a virus. It is therefore very different from the epidemic stage. This means we have reached a point where the disease will be very much present in the society like other ailments.

So, in a sense, Covid is going nowhere and may surface again as an epidemic if we don’t observe precautions.  It also means that it may not be possible to eliminate the virus in the near to medium term. Strains like Delta are several times more infectious and also a tad resistant to vaccination.

Around two years after the coronavirus first surfaced in China’s Wuhan, the world remains far from getting a grip on it. In the process, the virus has wrought havoc on the global economy. In the first quarter of 2020, India’s GDP declined by one-fourth. It is only now that some recovery is underway.  But to keep up the progress, the world needs to act in concert to ensure there is no further surge in cases of infections. This calls for the governments around the world to stay alert. .There is a greater need for collaboration on vaccination and also strict observance and enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures.

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