Covid scene in India

Latest government surveys peg the actual Covid cases in India at around 300 million since many, especially the young were asymptomatic. Reported Covid cases stand at 11 million which makes India the second highest in the world, with the US having the highest number of reported cases. Covid deaths in India stand at 157,248. Experts now say that the relatively low hospitalisation and fatality rates in India suggest that the coronavirus pandemic is approaching the next phase which is that it would become localized and manageable. At the moment a few states are reporting a spurt in infections but for a country of 1.35 billion people with limited health facilities and where the practice of wearing masks and social distancing is largely ignored, if the emerging trends prevail then India will indeed have a respite from the pandemic. This is crucial to the economy which had been in the doldrums due to the lockdown. If this trend holds then India can keep its economy open without any national lockdown.

Recent infections are being reported from five states, mainly Maharashtra, Tamilnadu and Kerala. Overall the fatality rate in India has fallen from 0.856 percent to 0.683 percent as of March 1. The overall Covid rate for India is 1.4 per cent and 2.2 per cent for the world.

Rajib Dasgupta, epidemiologist and professor of community health, JNU said India was witnessing a phase of  multiple epidemics within the country where the entire population is not equally susceptible. He believes that at this phase in the pandemic, the emphasis has to be managed locally. Hence building local capacities is imperative as these will be needed to tackle the disease. On the positive side, Dasgupta cites the example of Europe where subsequent surges are better managed due to improved public healthcare and clinical care and also better learning experiences which have brought down the death rates. He says the aim at this juncture should be to contain the virus in local clusters instead of inter-state curbs on travelers.

However, the vigilance on Covid-related protocols such as masking, hand washing, social distancing etc., cannot be ignored. This is what is problematic in India where people seem to have let their guards down especially in public spaces. Meanwhile officials of the Union Health Ministry have stated that India was nowhere close to attaining herd immunity through natural infection or vaccination. Hence states have to continue their surveillance. India has so far inoculated more than 12 million people but still has a long way to go in terms of coverage. Vigilance at this juncture is imperative. Letting our guards down now could damage whatever has been achieved so far and give another shock to the economy.

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