It appears to be a lull after a devastating storm. India’s daily Covid caseload, which had crossed the record 4 lakh mark nearly three weeks ago, has dropped to around 2 lakh. The daily positivity rate has fallen below 10 per cent, even as the country’s single-day count of tests has gone past 22 lakh. However, these encouraging figures should not lull us into complacency as the fatality rate still remains high, with about 4,000 people losing their lives every day. There are signs that the second wave is waning, but if we repeat the blunder of letting down our guard, the third wave could swamp us, as and when it comes.
The current breather should prompt the Central and state governments to set their house in order and improve their pandemic preparedness. It is imperative to put the vaccination programme back on track. The role of vaccines in saving lives and fighting the virus cannot be overestimated. Universal inoculation will remain a distant dream as long as the shortage of shots persists. Barely 3 per cent of India’s population is fully vaccinated so far, whereas both the US and the UK have administered at least one dose to one-third of their citizens. The long gap of 2-3 months between two jabs will render tens of crores of Indians more vulnerable to contracting the infection. That’s where adherence to the Covid safety protocol is a must – wearing masks and maintaining social distancing ought to be a way of life and not perceived as an exercise done under duress.
The authorities’ questionable decision to allow political rallies and major religious events during April caused untold damage, helping the second wave quickly attain monstrous proportions. Such congregations must remain a strict no-no for the time being. With most states starting to ease restrictions, there will be a general tendency to resume ‘business as usual’ at the earliest. But it should not be forgotten that the first wave peaked in September last year, a few months after nationwide unlocking was initiated. Recklessness during unlocking this time could take us back to square one.