Vaccination is the Only Way Out of the Coronavirus Pandemic

With every passing day, the total numbers of the new coronavirus infections a day are increasing and hitting new peaks. In the last 24 hours, around 1.7 lakh new cases have been recorded across India which is almost double of the peak of the first wave. In every single state, the numbers of reported new infections are increasing and many states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh etc. are recording the highest ever new COVID19 infections.

The number of active cases in India is now almost 12 millions and increasing with a 7 days moving average of more than 65,000 a day. Numbers of death every day are also increasing but with lower case fatality rate of 1.3 percent due the medical experience gained during the first wave along with a positivity rate of 5.2 percent. Many states are now again facing difficulties in providing healthcare services. There are long queues outside the vaccination centres.

The way new infections are increasing, it is quite possible that by the end of next week India may cross 2 lakh cases a day. But considering the previous experiences of the first wave, it would not be a bad proposition altogether. The sooner India hits the coronavirus peak in this wave, better it would be to control and minimize the human and economic losses. However, the numbers of tests across all the states are again increasing after a pause due to flattening of the coronavirus curve, but there is a need to increase the testing manifold. The testing must increase by four to five times to detect every possible carrier (asymptomatic and symptomatic) of COVID19 virus to break the chain.

But just increasing the test capacity wouldn’t be enough for India. Rather India needs to intensify its vaccination drive and should make the vaccination available to every adult. Also the states governments are in habits of decreasing testing once positivity rate falls. This should be done away.

As a result of increasing numbers of new coronavirus infections, many states have already imposed night curfews in many cities. Many states are planning complete or staggered lockdowns in many cities. Almost every state has already imposed restrictions on social gatherings. However, considering the ground realities, the night curfews seem to be of no use and are just symbolic as the people’s movement is negligible during nights across India and may not be helpful. Also complete lockdown is not a viable option for India now as it could only delay the spread in the first wave. Also the states and central governments along with people cannot afford another national lockdown due to huge fiscal deficits and falling income of people. There is just one option and it is intensifying the vaccination. Increasing vaccination cover is now investment in the people and economy and the governments should not shy away.

Rajeev Upadhyay

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