- The pandemic has remained true to itself all through these months characterized by uncertainty and unknown elements surrounding the dreaded virus. That the novel coronavirus continues to strive despite monumental efforts to tame shows how humanity is thrust with perpetual challenges. The Indian story is nothing different from that of other countries in comparison. The damages perpetrated aftermath of successive lockdowns still reverberates everywhere. As the confirmed infection cases head southwards in most parts of the country, few pockets are still reporting a spike causing great concerns for authorities. For example, the steady rise in infection cases in Kerala is proving to be a major worry.
- Most hearteningly, the economic activity has picked up to almost pre-pandemic levels going by the statistics made available. Since lockdowns were used locally and solely based on the positivity rates unlike the national shutdown of last year, many states are witnessing an uptick in economic activities. However, singed by the second wave, authorities are correctly proceeding on the assumption of a third wave projected to peak in October as per the scientific and medical experts. Experts believe the possibility of the third wave creating havoc is minimal owing to estimates of nearly 70% population carrying Covid antibodies, well supplemented by single-dose vaccination reaching more than 50% of adults. Hope the projections come true.
- Nonetheless, the Delta mutation mercilessly ravaging the country in April-May is still fresh in our memories. Also, questions being raised from different quarters about the waning immunity levels of those having received two doses of vaccination remain unanswered. Against this backdrop, both the governments, at the Centre and in states, are making worst-case assumptions while planning to set up healthcare facilities, including ensuring of uninterrupted oxygen supply. The maxim, once bitten, twice shy, will hold us in good stead as the preparation in right earnest has already kick-started. In a welcome sign, preparations are underway like the ongoing national stockpiling of critical drugs and utilizing funds as announced by the center on creating emergency health infrastructure.
- The funds should help to shore up oxygen storage facilities right down to district levels as also ramping up ICU facilities. A word of caution is not out of place to ensure all the prevailing gaps between promise and execution are not compromised. Otherwise, our preparedness will be put to the acid test come to the anticipated third wave. Running helter-skelter during emergencies will only lead to the preventable loss of precious lives. As schools are gradually allowed to resume academics, there will be a rise in infections for sure. In such a scenario, emphasis should be on vaccinating children, compulsory enforcing indoor masking, and random testing must gain importance to ensure safe reopening.
- There is no alternative but to keep pace with rapid vaccination drive to stay ahead of a virus resurgence. At the cost of sounding repetitive, the country cannot take the burden of undergoing debilitating lockdown even at the state levels anymore and must be averted to the extent possible from now on. Disruptions of interstate movements of goods and people are counterproductive for the economy. As such, even if there is an emergence of the Third wave, states should opt for micro containment zones rather than state-wide bans to ensure the wheels of the economy keeps moving.