Covid-19: India may have hit a ‘sweet spot’, but the pandemic is far from over

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on November 25, 2021

As cases surge in Europe, experts caution against assuming the pandemic has ended

India may have hit a "sweet spot" in the pandemic curve, with daily cases going below the 10,000-mark, accompanied by the opening up of economic, social and academic activities. But the pandemic is far from over, cautioned observers, pointing to the ground realities and rising cases elsewhere in the world.

India reported 8,488 new cases on November 21, 2021, the lowest since 8,579 reported on February 1, 2021. Notably, a couple of months later in April, the country had slipped into the worst wave of infections, with daily cases leading up to the peak of 4.12 lakh cases on May 6.

Over the last several days, however, new cases have been decreasing. But in stark contrast are the rising daily cases in the US and Europe – with some countries intensifying Covid-19 restrictions, and others like Austria going into a lockdown. This, despite widespread vaccination coverage in the developed world.

"Right now we are in the sweet spot, because of the vaccination and natural exposure (to the virus). But the trend in other countries suggests that the pandemic is far from over, including in India," Chinmay Tumbe, faculty in Economics at the Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad (IIM-A) told BusinessLine.

Tumbe, who has authored a book The Age of Pandemics - 1817-1920 - And how they shaped India and the world, indicated that India may be in a better position now because of the vaccination campaign and the exposure to the virus during the second wave. But the pandemic, based on past experiences of pandemics, isn't yet over.

"During the months of January, February and March there was a strange sense of hubris and we lost the plot (of precautions). The idea that the pandemic is over became so entrenched. This was very similar to what we are in today. But there is nothing in the data that suggests that the pandemic is over," said Tumbe, cautioning against celebrating the end of the pandemic.

"It may be slightly less intense in terms of deaths. Vaccination has broken the link between cases and deaths. But cases are rising as we see elsewhere in the world," he added.

Acquired immunity against the coronavirus, either due to natural exposure or through vaccination, may wear out in a few months. And there may be a rising trend in new cases among the vaccinated or infected, he cautioned.

Published on November 22, 2021

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