Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 07:00 [IST]
Last Update: Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 01:25 [IST]
It’s hard to miss the signs of normalcy around. Shopping centres are abuzz with activity, people without masks are a familiar sight, and even the economy’s rebound suggests that the pandemic has passed. The truth, however, is that infections are rising again in five Indian states, new strains have emerged, and the likelihood of a second wave is not negligible. India’s vaccination drive is going slower than it needs to and while high antibody detection in urban spaces has calmed nerves, we cannot count on herd immunity. The chief of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Randeep Guleria termed the notion that it’ll keep India safe a “myth".
India on Wednesday registered 13,742 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,10,30,176. The new cases are nearly 30% higher than Tuesday’s count. The country’s toll rose to 1,56,567 as 104 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The number of active cases stood at 1,46,907, while the number of recoveries reached 1,07,26,702. The health ministry said that daily recoveries were higher than the daily new cases in the last 24 hours. “13,742 new daily cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours whereas 14,037 recoveries registered in the last 24 hours,” the government said. “It has led to a net decline of 399 cases in the total active caseload.” Moreover, even as the cases rise, cases of three new Covid-19 strains—those first identified in South Africa, Brazil and the UK—have been recorded in India.
The Centre government has acted fast. It has deputed high-level multi-disciplinary teams to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, MP, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and J&K for supporting them in public health measures for targeted Covid response and management. The Modi government plans to ramp up Covid-19 vaccinations to as many as five million a day in the coming weeks, according to reports. The sharp increase could be achieved in part by doubling the number of shots administered at every vaccination centre to 200. The faster rollout is likely to coincide with the start of the second phase of the programme that will target the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.
Covid-19 is currently mutating almost 1,000 times slower than the flu virus, which is largely a seasonal disease. Most mutations that a virus goes through makes no real impact. Sometimes the virus will mutate in a manner that will help it survive the human immune response better. This aggressive strain then becomes dominant. There is some science to suggest that the current mutations might make you sicker but they certainly spread faster. Hence, it is being advised that Covid precautions continue to be taken seriously in India as the new mutated strains enter the country. It is also uncertain if the two vaccines being used in India will be able to protect entirely against the new variants.
There is strong evidence to suggest that the Covid pandemic will eventually fade into the background, but how long this will take, no one can really predict. Therefore, social distancing and other Covid-appropriate practices, therefore, must continue. To be sure, we’ve made impressive progress, with our corona curve having slid sharply off its mid-September peak. The sacrifice has been large, and so we owe it to ourselves not to let efforts slip at this juncture, just as an escape from the pandemic beckons. States with outbreaks in new areas or U-shaped charts in old hotspots must take action. The desire to get our lives back and see businesses roar must not make us misread risks.