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Synopsis: The current rapid spread of the Covid-19 is a result of poor political choices, poor communications, and neglect of public health principles
- India is witnessing a more intensive spread of Covid 19 in the second wave. For example, more than 3 lakh daily cases are reported, fatality rate has increased (2,000 deaths daily).
- This poses a threat to the economic and social well-being of the Indian people.
What are the reasons for the spurt in Covid 19 infection?
It is due to combination of many factors, such as
- Demography: India hosts the second largest population in the world. As the disease is contagious it spreads faster in high density population areas. Example, Cities like Delhi, Maharashtra.
- Diversity: India is geographically a large state and it is a socially diverse country. This makes controlling the coronavirus more challenging.
- Lack of effective Political leadership: During the first wave of infection, successful efforts to enforce social distancing and other public health measures helped in containing the spread of Covid19. However, the large political rallies and religious gatherings (Kumbh Mela festival) have contributed to the sudden surge in infection.
- Natural factors: Consistent mutation of the virus resulted in the production of more deadly variants. For example, India is now faced with “double mutant” strain of SARS-CoV-2.
- Ineffective public health management: Limited efforts towards genomic surveillance has resulted in lack of data to guide policy decisions.
What needs to be done?
First, need to break the chains of transmission by imposing Short-term targeted lockdowns. However, it has to be reminded that lockdowns cause a terrible economic and social cost and should be used as a last resort.
Second, need to expand access to vaccines. However, efforts must be made to overcome the logistical challenges to administer vaccines to a large number of populations.
Steps to minimise the number of lockdown days:
- Firstly, the Health functionaries should increase the testing rate with the goal of getting the positivity rate under 5%.
- Secondly, society has to be made responsible. Universal mask-wearing should be followed mandatorily as it is largely helpful in curbing the spread of the disease.
- Thirdly, sensitive decision-making by the political agents. Restriction on all major indoor and outdoor events, including rallies, religious festivals, weddings, is essential.
- Fourthly, vaccine manufacturers should be incentivized to produce Vaccines at a large capacity and at faster rate. In all likelihood, India’s pandemic will end if enough Indians are vaccinated.
Focus on public health measures, improve vaccinations, universal masking, and effective coordination across public health efforts can get back life to normal.
Source: The Hindu