- The pandemic continues to surge ahead unabated with no palpable signs of slowing down visible anywhere near the horizon. The country has achieved a dubious distinction of adorning the second most affected in terms of infection figures only behind the USA. Most worryingly, the experts are cautioning that the country has not reached a stage of attaining peak or plateauing/flattening out providing much-needed succor from the devastation caused by the pandemic.
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- As expected amid an economic meltdown, the unlock measures are enabling the activities to pick-up pace as the experience of lockdown suggested the futility of adopting blunt instrument to combat the pandemic is not only counterproductive but also extremely debilitating to the overall well-being of the country. With the invention of an effective vaccine still a few months away, the stakeholders are expected to relook into the combat protocols from time to time and to come out with newer measures accordingly.
- The most heartening aspect to note from the past few months’ unfolding events is the people’s resolve to move on after a long period of stalled activities. There is a reason why people were extremely cagey and apprehensive about the infection simply because the authorities were found wanting in provisioning adequate facilities, especially medical attention, and the ignorance surrounding the then uncertain behavioral pattern of the virus. That aspect addressed; things appear more settled now.
- The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has initiated a major step in announcing walk-in tests by doing away with Doctor’s prescription for COVID testing. Initially, this layer of the bureaucratic protocol was necessitated and as the country evolved strategies to meet the challenges, removing the same appears par for the course. That apart, the authorities are advised to ensure an adequate number of new testing centers are provisioned to ensure easy accessibility as well as lesser traveling time.
- Infected people traveling long distances, standing in serpentine queues, waiting for healthcare officials to obtain testing samples are bound to create unpleasant situations all around. Thus, provisioning more testing centers assumes paramount importance. Also, the turnaround time for test results must be reduced considerably from the present 24 to 48 hours as waiting to know the same might increase anxiety levels of the infected. Scaling up of testing from over 1 million to 2 million should be expedited.
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- It is worth reiterating to not look beyond the RT-PCR testing standard, considered the gold standard, as rapid antigen tests are returning with 50 to 60 percent accuracy which might turn bona fide infected person with negative results. Concurrently, antibody testing as also serological surveys should be speeded up to know the exact pattern of the spread of the virus. Huge relief to note that the case fatality rate (CFR) is at 1.7 percent now which is remarkably low as compared to other countries. The fight must continue!