Last year, India witnessed the 1st wave of Covid 19 Pandemic which peaked from June to Nov. Though India imposed a lock down in March and allowed it to last till May end but even the spread did not stop till December. Most initial Cases during the lock down period were limited to few clusters, but as soon as lockdown restrictions were relaxed ,the virus started spreading fast and from June to Nov, India witnessed a huge wave of Pandemic. By December & January 2021,cases in India had declined & this decline in cases by mid January lead to complacency amongst all key stakeholders & due to series of mistakes committed by the central government, State governments, local administration and people also, India now finds itself in the middle of deadly 2nd wave as predicted by Epidemiologists and this rapid ascent of the second wave panicking one and all particularly the government and the health specialists. Amid pandemic, epidemiologists believe that 2nd wave is very dangerous and as such people have to strictly follow covid protocols to defeat the virus and learn from the experiences of last year’s first wave of the pandemic . Showing any complacency contrary to the advisories of both the government and as well as the health specialist may trigger a major health risis and as such appropriate covid behaviour is the only way to defeat the second wave of the pandemic. It is a well established fact that using masks, washing hands and physical distancing are the most ideal way of defeating the pandemic but people after December last year did not follow the COVID protocols with the intensity they were following them during peak summer months as steady decline in the no of covid cases and deaths prompted people to abandon all the health safety practices. While it is understandable that people show complacency in following covid protocols because of physical inconveniences, it is inexcusable that our governments have failed to anticipate the 2nd wave, despite being predicted. While the centre shifted the responsibility of placing restrictions to state governments, the states took hasty decision on reopening of the economy ,especially unnecessary reopening of school, colleges & offices and even attendance of huge crowds at the marriage ceremonies ,political rallies and religious festivals. They have contributed largely to the rapid surge of infections.
An analysis of the ongoing 2nd wave clearly reveals that the rise has been much faster and efforts are on to reduce the intensity of the fresh wave of pandemic .It has been also observed that more younger people are getting infected that too with high severity .A comparative analysis of 1st & 2nd wave shows that the R value of the initial ‘variant’ of the virus of the first wave was 2-3, which means one infected person would infect 2-3 others; the variant(s) causing the second wave has a higher R value 4
The Strategy Ahead : Considering all these dynamics associated with infectious disease, it is very essential for the public to be aware & also the responsibility of the government to not let the guards down too early & to keep encouraging public to follow covid 19 protocols. It is because; otherwise the suffering being inflected by the public is going to increase further in the coming months This pandemic is here to stay with us for a considerable time and as such protocols have to be followed strictly till vaccine provides effective coverage. Cocial vaccine is the most ideal response to the fresh strain of the pandemic and as such people will will have to follow appropriate behaviour . Wearing masks, washing hands and distance at the outdoor venues are the unavoidable health safety measures. Since total lock down leads to socio economic inequalities, better for the people to follow covid protocol than to let an atmosphere for lockdown develop. So the only way to avoid a lock down is to adopt social vaccine and simultaneously scale up the vaccination program.
(The author is associated with J&K RTI movement and Member JKIFTS. Views are his own )