Fix botched vaccination, reduce transmission to end current crisis: The Lancet to India

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on May 09, 2021

Containing the transmission of virus and correcting the course on vaccination are the two key strategies international experts expect India to adopt even as the new global hotspot of Covid-19 added over 3 million cases in the past nine days.

While terming India’s much-touted largest vaccination drive a botched campaign, international medical journal The Lancet, in its editorial, asked India to pursue a two-pronged strategy to bring an end to this current catastrophic wave.

“First, the botched vaccination campaign must be rationalised and implemented with all due speed... Second, India must reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission as much as possible while the vaccine is rolled out,” said the editorialpublished on May 8.

Two bottlenecks

It underlined two immediate bottlenecks for effective vaccination, which relate to the supply of adequate quantities and distribution in urban as well as rural areas.

“The government must work with local and primary health-care centres that know their communities and create an equitable distribution system for the vaccine,” it added.

There was a timewhen India’s daily new cases had dropped to as low as 8,715 across the country on February 8. But the new double-mutant variant of the virus and complacency from public and the government led to an uncontrolled spread of the infections in the subsequent weeks.

“India squandered its early successes in controlling Covid-19. Until April, the government’s Covid-19 taskforce had not met in months. The consequences of that decision are clear before us, and India must now restructure its response while the crisis rages,” the editorial added.

Stressing on the transparent and timely dissemination of data, The Lancet editorial noted that as cases continue to mount, the government must publish accurate data in a timely manner and “forthrightly explain to the public what is happening and what is needed to bend the epidemic curve, including the possibility of a new federal lockdown”.

Notably, almost all major States constituting a large geographical part of the country, have announced regional lockdowns, night curfews and local restrictions on movement and gatherings. But The Lancet noted: “The federal government has an essential role in explaining to the public the necessity of masking, social distancing, halting mass gatherings, voluntary quarantine, and testing. Modi’s actions in attempting to stifle criticism and open discussion during the crisis are inexcusable.”

Quoting the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates, it cautioned that “India will see a staggering 1 million deaths from Covid-19 by August 1.” At present the total fatalities due to the pandemic stand at 2,42,399, while total cases have surpassed 2 crore with total cases at 2,22,96,093, including 1,83,11,689 recoveries as on May 8.

Published on May 09, 2021

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