The cases of Kovid-19 have been increasing continuously since the beginning of June. The latest number is a four-fold increase with 12,000 new cases being reported in the last 24 hours. It makes you wonder if this is the start of a new destructive wave. And if so how can we stop it?
The principles of dealing with COVID-19 are the same. Public health measures remain in effect, so do vaccinations. There are some new treatments, but right now, out of reach for most parts of the country.
Masking, social distancing and ventilation
Applying masks even with cheap cloth masks has proved to be very effective for the prevention of Kovid-19. Keeping indoor spaces well ventilated has made a significant difference in infection rates. Allowing outside air in can reduce the chances of transmission. For locations where increasing external ventilation is not possible due to pre-construction restrictions or other reasons, the Wold Health Organization (WHO) recommends portable standalone air filtration units with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, which have been have become popular. Few years due to increase in pollution.
Public fatigue primarily with respect to masking and social distancing makes it difficult for the government to implement masking and ventilation throughout the year. The government should strengthen the messaging and enforcement of these measures as the number of cases increases.
The mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna are crucial in this fight against COVID-19, mostly because of their superior protection and ability to rapidly change in response to a new variant. The government and the manufacturers have not been able to fix the liability issue due to the adverse effects of these vaccinations, so they are not yet available in the Indian market. Although we now have domestic mRNA vaccines in various stages of approval, it will take months for them to enter the market.
75% of the population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, 66% have vaccinated with both doses and only 3% with a booster dose, it is imperative that the government insist on more vaccination and immunization for the people Make it easy to do
Countries like Israel, UK, USA and others are giving their second boosters, it shows how far we are behind. A continuous information and education campaign and making boosters free for all will go a long way in this. It is very important that we understand that the protection provided by dosing decreases over time and that the gap between doses should be six months.
Diagnostics, data and modeling
The quality of data collection regarding the virus in our country is not uniform and is inadequate. About 5% of all RT-PCR tests should undergo genome sequencing so that we can know if the mutations present in the samples are related. This information will help us get an early warning in case of a variant with a dangerous mutation and help us be better prepared for it.
A government team of public health experts, pathologists, data analysts should be formed to analyze all the data coming in from the country, to look for new outbreaks. Once we overcome this, it can be expanded to include other diseases and to be used against them. This idea is being taken forward by Bill Gates internationally under the name GERM ‘Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization’ team.
We have to be ready for case increase or any new disease. With the rise of global travel and human-animal interaction, the potential for a new threat to come is quite high.
Dr Harshit Kukreja is a Research Analyst at Takshashila Institution. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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