Need of the Hour amidst Second Wave
New cases of Corona appear to be intimidating. India has become the new ‘hot spot’ of Covid-19, overtaking both Brazil (66,176 daily average cases) and USA (65,624 daily average cases). For the first time in the country, over 2.5 lakh new cases of infection were reported on Sunday. This is a lamentable situation, but there is nothing to panic at the moment. For the second wave of Covid-19, need of the hour remains a 3 week long nationwide lockdown.
On Monday, there has been a slight drop in the cases and on that day about 97 thousand new corona patients were identified. After all, why don’t we need to panic? Actually, this number of patients has increased because ‘investigation’ has started happening more. When the pace of investigation increases, the number of new cases naturally increases.
Currently, more than 11 lakh tests are being conducted daily. This is also better than last year’s position till June, July or August. When a sero survey was conducted in Delhi in November itself, around 50 percent of the people were found to be infected. In some places there was even more infection. If you change this figure to the number, then the number of infected people in the capital Delhi was more than one crore, while RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen Test was telling only two to three lakh people sick.
Right now the infection is spreading because people traffic has increased since February. At that time, new cases were coming down, tests were also decreasing, people were also eager due to the vaccine and they started taking slack. The personnel stationed on the advance front were also sent back to their departments.
Efforts to control all these viruses came into limelight and then the ‘mutation’ of the corona virus occurred. Since the cases were buried under cover last year, it showed a gradual spread of infection. But this time the interaction between people increased very fast. People became fearless and started increasing the crowd in the market. As a result, the transition gained momentum.
It is anticipated that the transition of this second wave may peak at around 15–20 April. The rapid new cases are coming out, this assessment does not seem to be wrong either. However, the actual state of infection cannot be understood from these estimates. If we paid enough attention to preventive measures and containment efforts, it is possible that the spread of infection will slow down.
It has to be understood that till the hundred percent vaccination is done or all the people are infected and do not get immunity, then the pace of infection will continue to decrease. Right now, every infected person is making three to four people sick. Our ‘reproduction number’ will not remain below one until the transition remains high.
A good situation is that the death rate has not increased. One of the main reasons for this is that our health infrastructure has improved. We are beginning to treat corona patients in a scientific ways. If you base the actual number of infections instead of the test, then the death rate will be less than one percent.
A nationwide sero survey shows that more than 60 percent of the population have become immune, which is a condition of ‘herd immunity’. The infection that is happening now, is usually happening to those people who have survived from this virus till now. Therefore, such people should get vaccinated as soon as possible or reduce their activities significantly.
They will get infected by this, but slowly, it will not cause much trouble to them. Basically, the patient is mildly or severely ill according to the amount of virus. Immunity varies from body to body. If the virus gets into the body in a large amount, then our immunity can fail. This is the reason for being infected again or getting sick even after being vaccinated.
The vaccine carries the virus dose to our body. When the virus exceeds that limit, our immune system responds. That is why, even after taking the vaccine, it is advisable to adopt all the preventive measures. Similarly, immunity is stronger in previously critically ill patients, while a mildly infected person is expected to fall ill again.
In our country anyway, more than 90 percent of the cases are of moderately infected patients, whose immunity starts to end after three to six months. But there is also a truth that if someone becomes ill after taking the vaccine, then his condition will not be serious. The way the transition has increased in some states of the country, it is largely a result of the irresponsibility of the people.
If all the patients reach the hospital, then the pressure on the doctors will increase. That is why it is being advocated to treat minor patients at home and mild serious patients at any center where oxygen facility is available. Serious patients should be admitted to the hospital only. With this, an increasing number of patients can be handled. But this is not happening, and a demand for lockdown is being started again.
If seen, lockdown is not the only answer right now. For the first time this strategy was adopted so that health services could be strengthened. We were successful in this, and today we have enough resources. Lockdown is definitely a way to stop the activities of the public, but people have to face many other problem.
Article first appeared in Live India: फिर जिंदगी को तरजीह देने का वक्त on April 14, 2021
About the Author
Dr. Arun Kumar, Malcolm S Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi.‘
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