The first anniversary of the Indian vaccination drive against Covid-19 is a moment to honour all health workers who fought the pandemic and walked the extra mile to help protect people. The result is an impressive achievement of 70 per cent of the country’s total adult population getting fully inoculated with 156 crore doses. A postage stamp was released on the occasion, with the Prime Minister hailing the health workers’ commitment. Yet, the battle is not won. The virus is mutating continuously as it attacks in wave after tidal wave, with 2.7 lakh new and 15.5 lakh active cases now in the country. Letters of the Greek alphabet have suddenly become morbid symbols of human helplessness with every new mutant getting identified.
This cycle of helplessness needs to be broken. We should stop counting the daily cases and active caseload only to despair. What matters are the hospitalisation figures and the death rate. If these two indicators do not show an alarming spike, there is no real cause for concern or need for night curfew, weekend curfew or curbs that kill livelihoods. Administrators should understand that every restriction they impose is an act of curtailment of economic activities, immediately resulting in loss of jobs, and thereby the meagre earnings of the most vulnerable sections of our society.
The world media should heed American news agency Associated Press’ decision ‘to avoid emphasising case counts in stories about the disease’. Mindless counting of the dead is also counterproductive as the fast-spreading Omicron variant may not necessarily be the cause of death, even when a dead person tests positive. Dr Angelique Coetzee, the chairperson of the South African Medical Association, who spotted the Omicron variant first, has told newspersons not to look at positivity rate or daily cases, but to focus on patients in Intensive Care Units and those who die after getting admitted solely for Covid infection. Governments should immediately lift curbs to mitigate the crippling economic impact of the third wave, for far fewer people are dangerously sick now than they were during the Delta wave.
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