The ICMR has rightly cautioned against the tendency to extrapolate the serosurvey findings to draw conclusions
The latest national serosurvey indicating that 68% of Indians may have developed Covid antibodies should be viewed more as a warning sign. Instead of slipping into a complacency mode, the government must undertake aggressive measures to prevent the third wave of the pandemic. The survey, carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), means that nearly 40 crore Indians are still to contract the infection. Hence, there is no room for complacency, particularly in the wake of the devastating impact of the second wave. Moreover, the antibodies can lose their efficacy over time. Vaccination is the only weapon that is effective in the fight against the deadly virus. The Covid-appropriate behaviour, including masking and social distancing, must also be strictly enforced. Any laxity based on the serosurvey could prove dangerous. In fact, the sample size of the survey is small and cannot reflect the ground reality in a vast and diverse country like India. The ICMR has rightly cautioned against the tendency to extrapolate the serosurvey findings to draw conclusions at the district and State levels. Increasing the vaccination pace should get top priority. Though the government had initially promised to inoculate one crore people a day, the average daily vaccination numbers are not even touching 50 lakh. There is an urgent need to expand the vaccine basket by roping in foreign mRNA vaccines for production in India. Lessons must be learnt from the devastation caused by the second wave. There is no time to lose and no room for complacency.
There is a growing tendency among people to drop their guard after the removal of restrictions in many parts of the country. We need to act quickly and decisively to take countermeasures on war footing to minimise the impact of the third wave. Alarmingly, there is no let-up in the fresh cases in Maharashtra and Kerala while the test positivity rate in at least five Northeast States is hovering around 15%. India cannot afford to squander the gains made by the cumulative effect of lockdowns, vaccination, and enforcement of the Covid protocol. The easing of restrictions comes with a social responsibility of following the Covid-appropriate behaviour. The scenes of people lowering the guard and thronging tourist places present ominous tidings. Arresting the spread of the new strains of the virus and safer reopening of the economy are possible only when the vulnerable sections are fully vaccinated. The Centre has faulted the States for the slowdown in inoculation drive. However, this is not the time for political blame games. The Centre and the States are required to work in tandem to increase vaccination coverage.
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