2020, as a year has completely changed the way we function. The pandemic has brought an unprecedented shift to a virtual online world where we live within the confines of our homes.
WHO stated that the global count as of 15th February 2021 is 108 487 180 confirmed Coronavirus cases. Thus, the virus and its varied strains are still thriving and with several countries slipping again into nationwide lockdowns.
India has made multiple attempts to achieve a certain level of normalcy. Several public hotspots like malls, offices, theatres, and restaurants have started to function at full capacity and the idea of social distancing is slowly fading away. Hence, this question starts lingering in our minds- Is the pandemic really over?
What is the current pandemic situation in India?
World Health Organisation published its last “Situation Update Report” for India on 15th February, where India reported a total of 10,916,589 confirmed cases. Daily cases in India are continuing to decline with a count of 11,649 confirmed cases on 15th February as compared to the 13,052 cases on the 1st of February as per the report by WHO. Furthermore, India is still keeping up its high recovery rate of 97.32% with 10656845 people discharged.
A press release by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare asserted that herd immunity against COVID19 must be attained through vaccination and not through infection. It also stated about India being the fastest country in the world to reach 70 lakh vaccinations against COVID-19 in only a time span of 26 days.
The states of Kerala and Maharashtra account for the highest cases. Thus, the central government is to provide teams to Kerala and Maharashtra to support public health interventions for COVID-19 management.
“The southern Indian state of Kerala reported the highest number of active coronavirus (COVID-19) cases of over 63 thousand as of February 14, 2021. Maharashtra and Karnataka followed, with relatively lower casualties. That day, there were a total of over ten million confirmed infections across India”, reported Statista Research Department.
What is the current update on the vaccination process?
India currently houses two prominent COVID-19 vaccines, Covishield developed in the UK and Covaxin, locally produced by pharma company Bharat Biotech. According to NDTV Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan declared that the country is preparing seven more COVID-19 vaccines. Whilst the government aims to inoculate every citizen of India, he established that the center has no immediate motive to make the vaccines available on a public scale just yet.
"We are not dependent only on the two vaccines as the country is working on seven more indigenous vaccines. Simultaneously, we are also working on the development of more vaccines because India is a huge country and we need more players and research to reach out to everyone," he said.
In Jan 2021, India Today conducted an exclusive interview with prominent virologist Dr T Jacob John. During this interview, the virologist gave possible insights into the vaccines, the emerging new strains, and the future ahead for India. He further expressed that the pandemic in our country is in its final leg and is likely to transit to the endemic stage in a month or two.
When asked the most about the primary thing India needs to undertake to keep the situation in control, he responded saying, “..Now curtailing the epidemic is not the need of the hour, but preventing death due to Covid is. Who are at risk of death? They are the immediate priority for vaccination. And that is one relevant need of the hour.”
He further added, “A second need of the hour is to prevent Covid-19 in those with comorbidities. Another challenging need is a plan for the elimination of the virus from the country, through vaccination, as a model for global eradication. That requires vision and courage of conviction.”
He also addressed the issue of crowding by people in public outlets due to the lockdown relaxations that have been made by the state. Thus, he asserted “There should be strict requirements of wearing masks, hand hygiene, not crowding (with masks minimum 2-ft gap), good ventilation wherever possible, cocooning the elderly and so on must be followed.”
What does this imply?
Every day, as we witness situations turning back to normal, most of us ponder the same question- Is the pandemic really over? Well, the realistic answer is NO, the pandemic is not over. There is a hope that it will be over soon, but this hope can only turn into reality if we are conscious as citizens. Hence, proper precautions like wearing a mask, and following social distancing are still important and necessary. Rightfully, these steps are our way ahead to achieve a pandemic-free country!