State Bank of India’s Economic Research Department has unveiled a special report — Second wave of infections: The beginning of the end? — to understand the current coronavirus pandemic in depth.

The report, authored by Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Adviser, State Bank of India, suggested that localised lockdowns / restrictions have not resulted in controlling the spread of the infection.

This is visible in the case of many states including Maharashtra and Punjab where the Covid-19 cases are surging despite the restrictions.

Mass vaccination is the only hope

The report indicated that getting vaccinated against Coid-19 is the only solution to the surging number of -19 cases.

The report speculated that if a greater number of people are willing to take vaccines, increasing the daily inoculation to 40-45 lakh from the current maximum level of 34 lakh, then with this capacity India can cover people above 45 years in four months from now.

The report referred to an earlier study of the Great Pandemic flu of 1918-19 by Hatchett, Mecher, and Lipsitch (2007). The findings of the previous study had supported the hypothesis that rapid implementation of multiple non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including the closure of schools, churches, and theatres can significantly reduce influenza transmission. However, the viral spread will be renewed upon relaxation of such measures.

Thus, increasing the speed of vaccination is the only way to win the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, stated Dr. Ghosh in the study.

The report added that the injection to infection ratio shows Israel, United Kingdom, and Chile are doing better than India. However, the pace of vaccination per hundred population in India is much higher.

Economic impact

The report observed that Business Activity Index based on high-frequency indicators has declined in the recent week ending March 22, 2021 with the latest value at 101.7 (the lowest in one month) from 104.6 in the previous week.

Meanwhile, the percentage of leading indicators showing acceleration has increased to 63 per cent in February 2021, indicating a pick-up in momentum. Thus, the lockdown or restrictions imposed by certain states might become visible in the coming months.

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