The DCGI has approved Covaxin for children between the ages of 2 and 18 years of age. Experts have hailed this step as it will not only provide much needed protection to school-goers, particularly those with co-morbidities, but also eliminate the threat of children becoming a ‘virus reservoir’ for a future outbreak. This marks another milestone in the battle against Covid-19 as India approaches the 100 crore mark in the number of people vaccinated with the first dose. This goal is expected to be reached on 14 October.
Psychologically, India has reached a stage where people are behaving as though there is no longer a threat from Covid. This is the kind of complacency that could create yet another serious outbreak, particularly if a new variant emerges. In many parts, wearing of masks and social distancing have almost disappeared. The low Covid figures, except in the odd state like Kerala, are not indicators that the challenge is behind us. It is important that people learn to ‘live with Covid’ as lockdowns – except in very specific areas – are no longer an option owing to the impact on the economy. Forget about the general public, even most political leaders have dispensed with the masks, and crowded events have become the norm. This is exactly the time when authorities step forward with measures to ensure that necessary precautions are maintained. This is even more important when schools have re-opened and mass transport back on track. The high incidence rate in the US is an example of how much impact irresponsible actions can have on even a rich country with no shortage of vaccines.
India also has a responsibility to the world as a major producer and exporter of cheap vaccines, because a large number of less developed countries continue to face the Covid scourge. The quicker universal vaccination is done here will make it possible to provide the necessary help to other nations. Already, exports have begun to the immediate neighbours. It must be noted that the threat will remain for everybody till such time the virus is not eliminated everywhere.