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UK’s ‘Freedom Day’ unlock strategy not for India to follow, warn experts

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on July 20, 2021

‘Cannot compare the two countries because of the vaccination coverage’

‘Freedom Day’, as the Brits term the complete unlocking of their Covid-19 restrictions, is being closely watched by governments and people across the world.

But the UK model is not something India should emulate, say experts, given the vaccination coverage and population density, among other things.

The UK has over 52 per cent of its people fully vaccinated and cases are rising because of the Delta variant, points out Dr Shashank Joshi, who is part of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force.

“It is no model for India to emulate,” he told BusinessLine, adding that the deaths will begin to reflect only in about two to three weeks. “India needs to go ahead with double masking and increasing its pace of vaccination,” he added.

The UK’s vaccine coverage, including those who have received a single dose, is over 68 per cent (with about 15 plus per cent partially vaccinated), according to ‘Our World in Data’. In comparison, India’s coverage hovers at six per cent, fully vaccinated, and a total of 23 per cent (including over 17 per cent partially covered.)

After a peak in the number of cases there is a lull, observes Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, former President with the Indian Medical Association (Kochi), adding that the opening up involves a “reasonable judgement” by the UK government that needs to be taken in good faith.

Plan B?

The UK government would have a ‘Plan B’ in place, he said, in case of a surge in cases. Besides, countries have been through this once and have an idea of how bad it can indeed get, and so are better prepared, he points out.

‘No comparison’

“But you cannot begin to compare the two countries,” he said, because of the vaccination coverage and density of population.

The UK, with half its population vaccinated, will hit the “glass ceiling”, he said, as it would be difficult to convince some people to take the vaccine.

But with over 70 per cent covered, they are in a position to make that call on unlock, he said, adding that they need to make a distinction about gatherings indoors and outdoors, the latter being safer.

‘Too many variables’

On the unlock strategy that other countries, including India need to pursue, he said, it needs to be customised. “Countries cannot be compared or put in a box, there are too many variables, sometimes even within countries,” he added.

Published on July 19, 2021

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