With India’s Covid cases rising more than four-fold in just a few days, it is natural for all to worry that the much-anticipated ‘third wave’ has begun. The experience of the past two waves shows that there are ways in which the transmission can be curbed. The common people, too, know how to cope, each having adopted a personal way of facing the mix of physical and economic challenges it poses. The high number of vaccinated people, plans to vaccinate children and administration of boosters to frontline and plus-60 people, also presents a line of defence that did not exist earlier. The Union and State Governments have considerable experience now in ramping up safety measures as well as medical interventions. All of this should provide an advantage in dealing with the coming wave.
It may be noted that, despite the sudden rise in cases, the number of persons infected in India is miniscule compared to that in many other countries, including the US, UK and Europe. Despite that, these nations continue to function without large scale lockdowns and panic measures. Once again, this is due to the increased immunity levels, much smaller percentage of hospitalisations and fatalities. The new version of the virus, Omicron, is reported to be milder despite being much more transmissible. These two qualities, it is stated, actually make it more like a vaccination than a virus. Even in India, it is being seen that many people who are testing positive are asymptomatic. Nature, it seems, produces remedies just as much as problems.
While this situation does not at all allow for complacency, it should give confidence in dealing with it. This time around, the Centre, while continuing its focus on vaccinations, should give greater autonomy to the states in dealing with the situation. It may be noted that even though the election rallies and other gatherings may be taking place in states like UP and Uttarakhand, the substantial increase is taking place in the more prosperous and urbanised states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, etc. Each state obviously has its own particular reasons for increased transmission and should deal with it accordingly. It will take another couple of weeks to a month before it becomes known if the present approach to dealing with the ‘wave’ is effective or not. It may then be time to set some new priorities.