COVID VACCINE

India overtakes Russia to become the third highest country with Covid infection. There is no reason to believe that the world is fighting ably against Covid-19, considering the steady rise in the infections and deaths. India too is perilously close to a likely community spread in some areas, with Sunday seeing the largest-ever rise in infection cases – over 23,000 cases in a single day – while the death toll linked to Covid-19 is nearing the 19,693   mark.

On the positive side, however, the recovery rate in India is steadily going up; currently at over 60 per cent, meaning the graph is showing signs of being reversed. Also, most of India is breathing somewhat easy of late, even while latest trends showed some southern states suddenly showing sudden spikes after a lull in the past few weeks, These states are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Notable is also the fact that among the over 19,000 deaths so far, over 8,000 were logged in Maharashtra alone. Overall, nothing goes to show the scenario is improving.

A significant development on the Covid-19 front is the Bharat Biotech’s reported breakthrough in developing a vaccine, which could go on clinical trial at various medical centres from Monday with nod from the Indian Council for Medical Research. ICMR is hopeful of its success, though the problems with developing vaccines through hasty methods are fraught with uncertainties. The success and/or side-effects have to be observed over a long period. Hence rushing with a vaccine at this point and with a deadline set for August 15 for its launch seems premature. The firm, though has a strong base in developing vaccines for several such diseases in the past. Both China and the US have also been into clinical tests of vaccines. Israel is making serious attempts too. Together, it is likely that the present grim scenario and Covid’s steady climb can be neutralized sooner than later.

A vaccine is a pre-requisite to getting public life back in active mode. It is also necessary for resumption of classes in schools and colleges, which remain largely disrupted for months. Online classes are as yet an evolving concept and not a substitute to regular classes, at least in the immediate term. Travel too can, hopefully, be in full form once a successful vaccine is developed, which could revitalize the economic sectors across the world.

Covid-19’s mighty shadow is bound to linger – if not worsen – for a long time to come. India’s infection rate is close to seven lakh, though these are mostly city-specific and region-linked. Various sectors of the economy are functional now, and more could open up if the scenario does not worsen and is kept under control.

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