Are We Really Prepared for Second Wave of the Pandemic ?

From the last part of March this year and more so during the past few days the spike in Corona cases has bewildered all of us to a large measure. This has greatly impacted the health infrastructure in the country and things have to a large extent has become beyond our control. People dying due to want of oxygen, hospital beds and essential drugs are indeed telling on the utter mismanagement of the current pandemic. Today the infected figure is nearly touching the three lakh mark and 22 people dying in Nasik due to oxygen leakage have turned out to be horror stories never heard before.

New infection and the total active cases is continuously on the rise and there is no sign of relief. This raises a vital question; whether the timings and aggressiveness of second wave was unknown to the policy makers? If it was known, what was the strategy framed for fighting this second wave? India had conducted three “Sero surveys” from around June 2020 onwards. After second survey report in November- 2020, it was clear that; the antibodies have been developed in about 20/25% population (Above 10 year’s age) and balance population is vulnerable for the infection. High intensity of infection was well known to the experts from the recent experience of other nations and data/graphs of the Spanish flue in 1918. Exact timing of entry was probably not known but it was expected sooner or later.

In these circumstances, the centre should come out with a white paper disclosing the strategy and plan which was earlier prepared after 1st “Sero survey” along with the revisions after subsequent two “Sero surveys”.

Out of this plan, how much work is completed and how much work is in progress? This includes the building of new capacities and the expansion of existing facilities of Hospitals, Oxygen, essential drugs and Vaccine. For new capacities, how many new doctors and medical staff are already appointed? What is the proposed expenditure and time line? Whether such plan and strategy was discussed with experts and also shared with the States?

Obviously such aggressive pandemic can’t be handled by the States. They have the constraints of technical and financial resources. In view of the current emergency, the revised plan may also be shared with the states. Likewise, the vaccination policy and the proposed time line for entire population should also be discussed.

Sharing of the plans with States must be transparent. It should also be made public since they are the ultimate sufferers. That will develop confidence in the public who are currently in a state of fear and uncertainty. There may be a third or fourth wave. The right solution is quick vaccination of entire population deploying maximum resources. Many developed nations have already completed the full vaccination of up to 25% of the population and aggressively proceeding for the remaining population. Whereas in India the full vaccination stands at barely 1.2% of the population. We must gear up our resources in full swing in strengthening our health infrastructure which is indeed imperative at this juncture.