Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

Tackling second Covid wave

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Second wave of covid

The article suggests ways to deal with the second wave of Covid in India.

What explains the bigger second wave

  • The size of any epidemic is a function of three things:
  • 1) The size of the pool of the susceptible population.
  • 2) The pattern of contact between the members of the population (frequency, mix, closeness and duration).
  • 3) Probability of spread during that contact (infectiousness of the agent).

Let us have a look at these 3 factors in the current context

  • As many people have already been infected in the first wave, the pool of susceptibles should be smaller.
  • Serosurveys also support this as they found that about 25 per cent of people had already been infected nationally.
  • However, this is an average and hides significant variations by state, age and place of residence.
  • Populations with lower seroprevalence become the potential pool for the second wave.
  • Given India’s large population base, the actual number of people are sufficiently large to enable multiple waves till we achieve a more even spread of protected people.
  • The persistence of protectiveness of antibodies of those already infected and their cross-protectiveness to newer strains is not well established.
  • Vaccination would reduce the pool of susceptibles.
  • However, the current level of vaccination coverage is not sufficient to make a significant difference to this wave, given the fact that we are already riding it.
  • It is a good strategy to prevent the next wave, if we can achieve substantial coverage with it.
  • Vaccination also prevents severe disease, and hence reduces the death toll.
  • With the removal of most restrictions, the probability of contact between individuals has risen sharply.

Way forward

  • What can and should be avoided are super-spreader events like a crowded park, the Kumbh mela, election rallies, etc.
  • A much stronger community engagement with a robust communication strategy and lesser emphasis on “criminalising” inappropriate behaviour is required.
  • A nuanced communication campaign is the need of the hour and is conspicuous by its complete absence.
  • What is urgently needed is a robust evidence-based communication campaign.
  • Such a campaign would involve proactive serial assessment of the community perceptions and concerns, testing and refining messages through an evolving campaign.
  •  A district-specific strategy of “test, trace, treat” along with containment measures (isolation and quarantine) is still the best way to deal with the situation.
  • We also need to put a stop to political bickering; it erodes public trust and confidence.

Conclusion

Dealing with the second wave should be based on the experience drawn from dealing with the first wave and complemented by a better communication strategy.

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