The second wave of COVID19 more threatening, more dangerous
‘This pandemic is here to stay with us for a considerable time and until vaccine provides effective cover, it is very important for the public to follow SOP’s and appropriate behavior’
Last year, India witnessed the 1st wave of Covid 19 Pandemic which roughly lasted between June to Nov. Even though India went to an early lock down in March the country wasn’t witnessing an alarming surge in the cases as was seen in many countries of Europe and states of America.
Most initial Cases during the lock down period were limited to few clusters. But as soon as the lockdown restrictions were relaxed, the virus began spreading freely and from June to Nov, India witnessed the first wave of Pandemic in the most staggering manner. By December and January 2021, cases in India had again declined and this decline in cases by mid January lead to complacency amongst all key stakeholders. But due to the series of mistakes committed by the administrations, State govts, local administration and more importantly by the public, India currently is in the middle of deadly 2nd wave as predicted by Epidemiologists and this rapid ascent of the second wave has become a major source of concern for the general public, the government and health administrators.
In the course of any pandemic, epidemiologists believe that 2nd wave happens to be the strongest wave and hence it is very essential to keep your guards up, especially when you see the first wave to be declining but contrary to the scientific advice, Govt’s and the public became complacent, lowered their guards against pandemic, abandoned the Covid appropriate behaviour, thereby pushing the country into a deadly course of 2nd wave of infection.
It is a well established fact that Mask wearing, Hand hygiene and Physical distancing is the only best way to keep the virus away until we arrive at a vaccine that is effective and proves to be successful in fighting the virus. So the SOP’s shouldn’t be taken very lightly as these are also termed as Social vaccine. But by the end of last year, the public was already displaying fatigue with regards to following covid appropriate behaviour and there was too much of leniency displayed all over. The declining cases made the people more emboldened who then abandoned all the safe practices .While it is understandable that public is going to become complacent and suffer from fatigue, it is inexcusable that our governments have failed to anticipate the 2nd wave, despite being predicted by the scientific community. While the centre shifted the responsibility of placing restrictions on the state govts, the states carried out a hasty reopening of the economy, especially unnecessary reopening of school, colleges and offices, along with this a large assembly of crowds in marriages ,political rallies, religious occasions & festivals. They have all added the rapid surge of infection.
An analysis of the ongoing 2nd wave clearly reveals that the rise has been much faster and doubling time of the cases has nearly reduced by half. Also it has been observed that more younger people are getting infected that too with high severity. A comparative analysis of 1st & 2nd wave shows that the R value of the initial ‘variant’ of the virus of the first wave was 2-3, meaning, one infected person would infect 2-3 others; the variant(s) causing the second wave has a higher R value which is greater than 4.
THE STRATEGY AHEAD
Considering all these dynamics associated with infectious disease, it is very essential for the public to be aware and also the responsibility of the government to not let the guards down too early and to keep encouraging public to follow covid 19 protocols is a must.
This pandemic is here to stay with us for a considerable time and until vaccine provides effective cover, it is very important for the public to adopt social vaccine and follow appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks, hand hygiene, physical distance since a total lockdown might not be possible as it is going to cause immense sufferings and would further increase the socio economic inequalities. it is very essential to avoid worst case scenario and the only way to avoid such disastrous lockdown would be to adopt social vaccine and to scale up the vaccination programme.
The writer is associated with J&K RTI movement and a member of JKIFTS