Indeed, it is a great respite for the whole country to see the receding numbers of Covid- 19 cases of the deadly second wave. This once in a century pandemic, really brought us all on our knees. All over the world, there is economic crumbling, shattering of people’s lives physically and psychologically. Reams of articles, webinars, television shows on how to deal with the Covid-19 situation have made people themselves epidemiologists and doctors unknowingly, advising each other in their neighbourhood.
It took years to find vaccines for earlier pandemics viz. smallpox, leprosy, malaria, polio, cholera, plague. In the case of Covid-19, it was in a jiffy. During this pandemic time, there are many words added to our lexicon viz. quarantine, social distancing, mask, Covid compliance, black/white fungus- Mucormycosis, migrant labour, online lessons, Zoom-meets, Webinars, so on and so forth. Of course, the word “quarantine”is not new, it has been coming for a long time for all contagious diseases viz. smallpox, chicken pox, mumps, measles, polio, leprosy etc.
Long ago, in the past, people had an impression that bad environs cause contagious diseases. So, they encouraged hygiene overall to people. And for the patient affected: to have a well-washed and fresh bed-sheets, loose (not tight fitting) clothes, good food and a well-ventilated room were advised. Later, scientists found out that infectious diseases were caused by microorganisms too. Those are small for a naked eye to see i.e.; the bacteria and viruses. In any case, Covid-19 virus is a new one for our immune system to tackle. That is the reason, it was at the beginning called a “novel” disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) initially called it to be pneumonia of unknown cause. Now that there is a vaccine, this Covid-19 could be prevented to a great extent. Vaccine is nothing but a small dose of virus introduced into our body. This prior contact (of the virus) with the body would yield immune memory. It would also develop antibodies from within (the body). This will help, when actual coronavirus attacks, to fight with. So, the Government is encouraging people to take Covid-Jab/vaccination.
Interestingly, some scientists say, in the case of viral epidemics viz. Ebola, swine flu, HIV, smallpox, measles the rate of transmission is not as much as in the Covid-19. The Covid-second wave of B.1.617 delta-variant of coronavirus being more transmissible than the previous alpha, affected too soon too many in India. This wave was unexpected because it (the mutant virus) has the ability to infect the partly and fully vaccinated people also. This unusual spread baffled all in the country. With funeral pyres all over shown on media, it appeared as if the country was on burning cinders. The complacency, people have had after the first wave, was gone with this startling second wave of Covid-19.
To counter any epidemic outbreak, early counter measures are important. For, adequate measures would slow the rate of infection early after the outbreak. This vengeful second wave did not give room to think and plan. None expected, as the first one was not this lethal. Oxygen, the life-saving gas, has become so scarce leading people to panic. The Government ran pillar to post to supply, as the need of that scale was unanticipated.
Though there are drawbacks, there are a great number of advantages too in our country. Many say, India is a highly populated and crowded country. Hence, social distancing is difficult. But India has an advantage of having ventilation: open air and the Sun. In the western world houses are closed and vacuumed. That is because of cold and suboptimal temperatures. Those houses themselves serve as Petri dishes for the virus to grow. That is not the case in India.
In India, we can open doors and windows, switch on fans for high passage of air. With all these preventable steps plus herd immunity by vaccinating, third wave-prevention is in our hands. Unlike what the political opposition says, that is: to vaccinate fully, many scientists say vaccinating sufficient numbers, not necessarily everyone in population, could yield herd immunity. Already many have been infected in the first two waves. So, there is some protection. Nevertheless, people should be cautious without letting their guard down.
Speculations are rife about the third wave of Covid-19 in India, where children may also get affected. One way it is good to have this fear-psychosis. It prevents people from being off the guard. However, no one can definitely predict whether such a wave occurs. By the time India has had two waves of Covid, the U.S. experienced three. In all likelihood, if people follow the precautions of wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and using hand sanitizer and if sixty percent of the country is vaccinated, there may not be a third one.
Our Prime Minister’s speech on June 7 assuring free -vaccine to all (by the Centre) has given a great relief to all state chief ministers, who have been struggling hard, to get vaccination for all, in their respective states. Some of them have thanked the P.M for the timely action. As a matter of fact, vaccination is the real stimulus to the people, to go out and work without fear. From 21 June, the Government’s new vaccine policy comes into effect. As targeted, if the government vaccinates a substantial number of people, there will be economic growth/progress. This itself would be a huge achievement for the government.