Shot in the arm @100 cr, still a long way to go


India crossed a significant milestone of administering 100-crore cumulative Covid vaccine doses. India's inoculation drive just got a booster dose and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed it as a triumph of Indian science, enterprise and the collective spirit of the people. The Indian Medical Association praised the leadership and modern medical manpower to keep the mortality rate under 1.4 per cent against the 2.5 per cent reported in many western countries.

It is indeed a moment of relief that India managed to gallop past this figure, given the initial hesitancy and the negativity that surrounded the vaccines over safety and efficacy. However, India still has a long way to go. Although 74 per cent of the eligible population has received at least one dose, only 30 per cent are fully vaccinated leaving a vast section still exposed to the threat of the virus.

Technically speaking, India has not even reached the halfway mark of full vaccination, and given the inoculation sluggishness seen in October, it appears to be an uphill task to scale up the numbers. It may be noted that the vaccination picked up following the killer second wave, where large sections came forward to take the jab driven by sheer fear and panic.

With the Covid situation easing off considerably, the government may find it difficult to push forward and reach out to those who are still to take their first dose or those who have refrained from taking the second shot. The government will have to rework its strategy ahead of a full-scale opening. Moreover, it will have to be very cautious of tourists entering India. On this count, making a negative Covid RT-PCR report mandatory for inbound traffic is a welcome step. The risk-based approach must continue till the global trajectory of the virus shows a considerable decline.

While India celebrates a milestone of 100 crore doses, the government must bear in mind the daily targets required to fully vaccinate all adults by December-end this year has increased from the July figure of 8.9 million to 12.3 million now. India needs 1,888 million doses to complete the vaccination of the estimated 944 million adults. With the pace of vaccination slowing down, achieving full vaccination by December 31 appears a Herculean task.

Goa may momentarily breathe easy over the drop in positivity rate despite the State opening up to near-normalcy, but the daily fatality rate is a huge cause for concern. While people have ventured out shedding the fear of Covid, we are still not in a position to call it "the worst is over". Thankfully the feared third wave hasn't struck, but even at this stage, Goa continues to witness death cases between 4 to zero with the total fatality count steadily mounting towards 3,400.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant last month had announced that Goa achieved a record 100 per cent coverage of the first dose, with 42 per cent taking both doses. He announced that Goa will be fully insulated by October end. However, with the virus losing its virulence, and electoral politics taking centre-stage, it appears that the eye is off the ball.

Let us not rest on milestones. We must realise that winning the remainder of the battle against Covid is going to be tough and challenging. The government has to galvanize all resources and give the vaccination drive one final push to achieve full coverage.

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