View from India: Covid-19 spreading at faster pace now than in 2020
Image credit: Dreamstime
In its second coming, the pandemic seems deadlier than the first one. According to Union Health Ministry data, the total tally of cases is 13,527,717. Active cases have surpassed the 12-lakh mark. Here are the updates.
Various states across India have made news headlines as they reported thousands of new cases per day. This has crossed to well over a lakh of cases daily. Death tolls, too, are on the rise. Each grim milestone is broken the following day as the number of active coronavirus cases soars higher. As the numbers spike, it is evident that the country is in the throes of a second outbreak of the pandemic. With the daily infection record swelling, India finds itself in third place in the global list of countries most affected by active cases, behind first the US, then followed by Brazil.
The next four weeks have been declared as critical. Dr V. K. Paul, a member of the NITI Aayog (the policy think tank of the Government of India), has expressed concern about the virus which is spreading much more rapidly than before. Naturally, it’s cause for alarm. Moreover, a large section of the population is still susceptible.
A total nationwide lockdown may not seem feasible due to economic reasons. Nevertheless, Mumbai, the country’s finance capital as well as Delhi, the national capital, have imposed night curfews. Covid negative tests have been made compulsory in many of the interstate movements.
India has a population of 1.3 billion people. With Covid cases surging, the demand-supply of vaccines have been badly hit. As of now, India has administered doses of Covishield and Covaxin. These Covid-19 vaccines are manufactured locally. By October, it is probable that the number of vaccine players will increase by five. The new range of vaccines may include Russia’s Sputnik V, which is likely to be produced in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has reportedly partnered with Indian pharmaceutical players. As well as the Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy's Laboratories, RDIF has joined with Hetero Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma and Vichrow Biotech. This will raise the proverbial shot in the arm, as it will result in a production capacity of 850 million doses. Apart from that, various other vaccines are undergoing clinical trials.
There is still a perceived need to ramp up vaccine production. Understandably, the Government of India (GoI) has suspended Remdesivir injections from being exported until the situation eases within the country. The GoI has appealed to drug makers to scale up the production of Remdesivir. This is an antiviral drug essential for adults in their fight against Covid-19. Besides that, the Madhya Pradesh government has gone that extra mile to procure Remdesivir injections. The idea is to provide injections free of charge to the economic poor.
Hailed as one of the world’s largest vaccination drives, India began the first phase of vaccination in January. The community of healthcare and frontline workers comprising around three crore people have been prioritised. The nationwide phase-wise inoculation drive expanded in March to include people over 60 years of age and those aged between 45 and 59 with other illnesses. The third phase, which began on April 1, includes everyone above 45 years of age.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to declare: “India is the fastest country in the world to administer 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine and has achieved the feat in 85 days.” Yet the pace at which the second wave of infection is spreading has urged the country to speedily increase the output of vaccine production.
Modi has announced that the ‘Tika Utsav’ will begin on April 11 and run until April 14. The time period coincides with the birth anniversary of social activist-pioneer of women’s education Jyotiba Phule, which falls on April 11, while that of jurist-economist BR Ambedkar is on April 14. The government aims to provide maximum inoculation to the people in this period.
“India needs to remember four things, which include each one-vaccinate one, each one-treat one and each one-save one. If someone contracts corona, the people should take lead in the creation of micro-containment zones,” said Modi.
Meanwhile Covid-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks, regular hand sanitising and maintaining social distance remains the same as it was last year.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.