Covid-19 second wave
From lockdown to masking after vaccination, expert explains what is the need of the hour
Several states in India are witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases since late February and early March. The overall Covid-cases tally every day has also been more than 20 thousand for some time now. From what we are observing, it appears that the second wave of the pandemic is here. Also, the speed of the spread is comparable to the first wave.
For example, Maharashtra, the worst-hit State-reported close to 25,000 cases a day at its peak in September last year and now, according to the latest update the State after a slump for a long period has started reporting 16,000 cases a day.
Looking at this existing trend, and considering that all restrictions have been lifted, it appears that the State can get to its September-like peak in a few days.
Dr Pradip Awate talking to the Indian Express has tried to explain how dangerous is the second wave and what is the role of the vaccination drive.
Difference between the second wave and the first wave of Covid-19 and how Maharashtra is tackling it.
The most significant difference between the virus circulating now and that started the pandemic, Dr Awate finds is that the present one appears to be much less harmful. This is evident from the fact at the fatality count is declining even with the rise in the number of cases. For the most affected State in the second wave, Maharashtra, the fatality rate is less than 1 per cent now. So although the concern of rising cases is raging people are getting better.
However, Dr Awate maintains that the epidemic curves can depend on multiple factors like geography, international connectivity, weather patterns and there’s nothing wrong with the managing of things in Maharashtra. The change in the graph is about a complex play of numbers and it is not easy to predict how they can go in future or how long will it take to reach a peak etc. Also, several variables need to be taken into account to understand why a different State or country has a different trajectory.
Will imposing lockdown again improve the situation
Lockdown can only mean hitting the pause button. It can help in the initial phases of an epidemic but preparing to deal with a crisis with everything running is necessary. The lockdown gave time for improving healthcare infrastructure like adding beds, ventilators, laboratory network. Since all these are in place, lockdown should not be the only solution as it bears big social end economic side-effects.
On the contrary, the authorities should increase monitoring and conduct more aggressive screening for symptoms, contact tracing and monitoring patients under home isolation.
Role of vaccination and why it is done in a phased manner
Vaccination has an important role to play as Sero Survey results show, only 20-25 per cent of the population could acquire herd immunity. So for the rest of the population vaccination is necessary to acquire immunity.
Although a three-phase trial of both the Covid-19 vaccines has been done with promising results, the testing was done for a relatively short period, suggests Dr Awate. Hence, continuous monitoring of its impact is important on a larger population, which is why adverse event following immunization, is being followed at vaccination booth. This standard procedure termed, pharmaco-vigilance is followed whenever a new drug is introduced.
The vaccination drive will be opened for all in a few months, but until then carrying it in a phased manner is necessary, asserts Dr Awate.
Do the vaccinated group need to still need to follow Covid safety norms?
No kind of vaccination can be 100 per cent effective and not certainly Covid-19. Hence, at an individual level, the risk of infection still persists Also a beneficiary will not know how long it will take to grow immunity or how long it will last. Therefore, people still need to adhere to Covid-appropriate behaviour even after receiving a vaccine.
How long will wearing masks be required
There is uncertainty about the same. As new variants of Covid-19 are coming and the effectiveness of vaccines against them is yet unknown, it cannot be asserted that masks should go. Considering all these factors people need to continue wearing masks and maintain physical distance, concluded Dr Awate.