Two years of Covid: With each wave, Karnataka prepared better

Experts suggest improvement in areas to remain alert to pandemic signals in future

Published: 08th March 2022 07:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2022 07:01 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Karnataka on Tuesday marks the second anniversary of the pandemic hitting the state. On March 8, 2020, a 40-year-old techie who returned to Bengaluru from the US, was the first person in Karnataka to test Covid-19 positive. Since then, a total of 39,42,730 got infected by different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, claiming 39,996 lives in the state.  

The two years were endured by the people of this generation through unprecedented misery even as the state’s health machinery creaked and whined with the increasing burden of the pandemic across the state.
Hospitals saw acute shortage of beds, oxygen, testing and diagnosis infrastructure through the first wave (March-October 2020), while the second wave (December 2020-November 2021) saw the state health machinery recuperating based on lessons learned from the first wave. But the second wave wreaked havoc in terms of death and suffering, more than what people suffered through the first wave, thanks to the severe Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In the third wave (January-March 2022), however, the Omicron variant was luckily milder than the preceding variants, besides the anti-Covid-19 vaccination programme — which was kick-started on January 16, 2021 — provided a degree of immunity to the vaccinated population. The number of deaths in the first and second waves were almost three times the death toll in the third wave. Experts have said the health apparatus in the state has emerged wiser and better prepared, although they also suggested improvement in areas to remain alert to pandemic signals in the future.

Dr V Ravi, eminent virologist, nodal officer of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) lab at Nimhans, and Head, Research & Development, Tata Medical and Diagnostic Centre, told TNIE, “As far as preparedness is concerned, we are much better prepared, not just in terms of infrastructure, but also in preventing hospitalisation and deaths.” However, he said, “What needs to be continuously carried out is sentinel surveillance.

Fever, respiratory infections need to be continuously tested for known pathogens. If they turn negative then such cases need to be checked through Next Generation Sequencing. Strategic surveillance needs to be set up in hotspots where there are man-animal-bird interactions and wet markets.”Dr Ravi said the state lacked human resources in many areas which is important for finding new variants.

Dr C Nagaraj, member, state Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee, and Director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, said initially there was a lack of facilities such as oxygen beds and ventilators. But once the government responded to the need to strengthen infrastructure, things started to improve. “People would earlier neglect symptoms of persistent cough. Once Covid-19 set in, people became alert to even the slightest of coughs or common colds, and reported to health centres,” Dr Nagaraj explained.


  • To reach 1,000 patients: 65 (May 12, 2020)
  • To reach 2,000 from 1,000: 10 (May 22, 2020)
  • To reach 3,000 from 2,000: 8 (May 30, 2020)
  • Reached 1.06 lakh (July 28, 2020)
  • 2.03 lakh (August 13, 2020)
  • 10.06 lakh (April 2, 2021)
  • 20.13 lakh (May 11, 2021)
  • 30.00 lakh (Dec 11, 2021)
  • 39.42 lakh (March 7, 2022)


1st wave    12.54%    (Sept 27, 2020)
2nd wave   8.81%      (June 4, 2021)
3rd wave    6.21%      (Feb 5, 2022)


Lowest(July 5, 2020) 35.29%
Highest(March 7, 2022) 98.90%


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