- It is a rude awakening as well as a matter of grave concern to the nation when the health officials revealed about the new COVID-19 mutations from South Africa and Brazil making their dreaded entry here. Various reports emerging in newspapers mention that there is any number of variants of the SARS-Cov-2 in circulation across the universe. An uninterrupted surge in the confirmed infection rates in many of the European and Western countries amply demonstrate how resilient the virus has emerged over the past year or so. Though the scientific community burnt the midnight oil to invent effective vaccines to counter the virus, the menace continues to stifle humanity.
- In India, it is known for a while that the states of Maharashtra and Kerala account for almost 70% of the cases reported. Most alarmingly, reports of a consistent spike in cases in Mumbai over the past week or so have prompted the Maharashtra government to issue a lockdown warning to citizens if they continue to neglect following safety and health guidelines. With the opening of the local trains in Mumbai, there appears to be a surge owing to negligence vis-à-vis social distancing norms leading to the uptick. Of course, neither Maharashtra nor the nation can afford to even think on the lines of imposing lockdown and the statement is aimed at scaring the people for effect.
- Note that there is a palpable dropping of the guard across the country while observing how the majority of the citizens are behaving. It is as if normalcy has returned already by grossly disregarding the standard operating procedures. Wearing of masks is non-negotiable and cannot be compromised so soon as the lurking danger of the virus suggests in no unambiguous terms. Also, the vaccination drive undertaken so far has been a big disappointment with hardly 20-23% coverage reported for the intended beneficiary’s viz. healthcare workers and frontline workers, respectively.
- The slow pace of vaccination has compounded the problem of reaching out to identified categories of people as apprehensions, doubts, and lack of clarity on the efficacy of the vaccine is quite prevalent. Even the knowledgeable doctors and experts are divided about the recommended gap between the first and second doses of the vaccine. Even though serosurvey conducted recently revealed about 21% of people possessing anti-bodies, the sheer population density of the country would mirror how far we are left to traverse to achieve immunization.
- The Union Health Ministry should revise its strategy of administering vaccines by allowing participation of the private health sector in greater numbers on demand to complement its ongoing efforts to ensure maximum capacity utilization. Raising vaccination sessions without impressing the citizens to get immunized defeats the purpose. Therefore, it is incumbent to aggressively carry out information dissemination urging citizens to come forward for immunization. No sooner the vaccination coverage reaches optimal levels, the quicker the chances of keeping the virus at bay. Any delay would prove to be catastrophic!