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Dangerous Amnesia

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It is a matter of concern that the second dose vaccination of as many as 11 crore people is overdue. This indicates a false sense of security among the general public that Covid-19 is no longer a threat. Added to the already very difficult task of ensuring everybody is vaccinated, governments will now have to chase after those avoiding the second dose.

There is good and bad news on the Covid front. Very importantly, fatalities have dropped in most of the country, except for the holdouts like Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. This seems to have given people the impression that the worst is over and they are behaving accordingly in the markets, places of worship and other public areas. It is not due to some advanced understanding of how to ‘live with the virus’, but dangerous memory loss on what just recently happened to the entire country. They need only to look at present conditions in the US, UK, etc., to see how the pandemic is refusing to go away. Variants keep emerging, and there is the ever present danger that some of these could get past the vaccination defence.

It is reported that ninety percent of Delhi’s population, for instance, has developed antibodies to the virus. This can’t be attributed entirely to the vaccination drive – it just shows that a large part of the population has been exposed to the virus. This means that the transmission process is on – undercutting the hypothesis that herd immunity will kill the spread. Even in Uttarakhand, where the number of cases is mostly low, the very fact that people are getting infected shows the virus remains within the community. This means that disregard for Covid precautions can prove dangerous, particularly as its spread is also linked to shifts in weather. With the approach of the festive season, the holidays, and election campaigning, a serious threat remains. The problem is even greater in the context of schools and colleges reopening.

The matter cannot be left to the governments alone. Concerned citizens and organisations must take it upon themselves to help speed up the vaccination process, which basically remains the only defence, thus far. There is news that medicine has been developed for the virus, but it will take some time coming and, considering the possible cost, may be hard for India to procure. So, the focus has to remain on prevention.