Covid Not Going Anywhere

THERE has been a surge in Covid-19 cases in several countries after a brief lull following the sudden eruption of the Omicron wave across the world including in India. There has been a fresh spread in some European and Asia-Pacific countries  South Korea, Germany, Austria and New Zealand even registered their highest single-day infection counts ever. Similarly, the resurgence of the infection in China and Hong Kong took  the world by surprise.  The communist giant put nearly 30 million people under lockdown, as surging virus cases prompted the return of mass tests and health officials to city streets on a scale not seen since the start of the pandemic. But India is so far doing well in the aftermath of the Omicron wave which mercifully didn’t lead to as massive a death toll as the Delta wave in April-May last year.  India just resumed regular overseas flights and is all set to end official containment measures this week. This raises some legitimate concerns: is it really safe to restart international flights when the major parts of the world are seeing fresh outbreaks. And some of these countries, unlike India, have a developed healthcare system.

So, it is premature to rule out more Covid waves and we have to be prepared for them. The world has been through several successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic which have infected millions and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. With the abating of the Omicron wave which broke out early this year, there was a temporary sense of relief across the world.  The economies have started re-opening in most parts of the world. There is a realization that the worst is over and the pandemic is gradually on its way out.

But is it really so?  Fresh outbreaks have dispelled this illusion. So, it is not clear yet what would be the future shape of the Covid-19 virus that was unleashed on the world in February 2020 from Wuhan in China. Whether herd immunity will save us? Whether the virus will become endemic in some milder form like our everyday cold. Or whether deadlier variants of the virus are on their way. There is already talk of the sub-variants of Covid-19 rearing their head. And the fresh outbreaks across the world could be traced to them. So far, Covid-19 has turned out to be a very stubborn virus. Despite full vaccination by a large mass of people across the globe, the outbreaks have not stopped. Here’s hoping that the new Covid variants become milder so that people can live with them.

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