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Will India overcome the Covid-19 surge?


There has been a steady rise in numbers since February 1, when India reported the lowest daily Covid-19 infections in over eight months. This hit an all-time high on April 4, when more than 100,000 RT-PCR confirmed cases were identified in a single day, the most since the pandemic began. 

On April 6, the record was broken when the total number of cases surpassed 115,000.

Though India must successfully combat the second wave, it is critical not to panic and instead to remain calm. The spike will subside soon, but it will take a combination of technological, institutional, and behavioral adjustments to do so.

Most people stopped witnessing Covid-19 acceptable behavior when companies, educational institutions, malls, restaurants, and the entertainment industry opened. People had grown tired of the home quarantine and social distancing measures, as well as the business losses they had suffered for many months, and they had begun to enjoy unrestricted independence.

The steady decline in Covid-19 numbers since the beginning of 2021, combined with news that two relatively effective indigenously manufactured vaccines were available in India and that at least three more similarly effective vaccines were on the way, caused people to let down their guard, relax, and behave as though life had returned to normal.

It's critical to figure out what's causing this extraordinary increase in numbers, as well as the steps that need to be taken to put a stop to it.

What should be done to prevent the virus from spreading? It is possible to use a mixture of science and administrative techniques.

The scientific method is to develop new techniques to produce designer therapeutic antibodies with effective virus-neutralizing potential, similar to how the Ebola virus infection was successfully treated. In the United States, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has already produced an investigational medication, REGN-COV2, for Covid-19.

More research is needed to develop new products along similar lines that are equally successful against new variants while still being affordable.

It is evident that human behavior has played a significant role in the second wave's growth. Adopting stringent sanctions, rounding up, and fining those who breach Covid-19's stipulated behavior will be a more administrative solution. 

All institutions must be made more sensitive, and employees must be tested on a regular basis, with positive results tracked and treated according to the procedure. Even if one person is not checked or the positive person is not quarantined properly, the authorities can close these establishments.

The second alternative is to ramp up the vaccination campaign to reach five to six million people every day on average, with a phased roll-out based on containment zones. To identify hot spots, robust data on sero-surveillance, using the more sensitive chemiluminescence immunoassay (CLIA), is needed, just as it was done previously with tangible results. 

Vaccinating every susceptible person in these areas, regardless of age, and prohibiting all social activities could go a long way toward preventing the second wave. The key question is whether faster infection spread in younger age groups leads to faster herd immunity and, as a result, faster pandemic contraction.

Though India must successfully combat the second wave, it is critical not to panic and instead to remain calm. The surge will subside soon, and what worked during the first will almost certainly function again — but only with a combination of technological, administrative, and behavioural improvements.

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