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Not the time to be casual about second Covid shot

One of the takeaways of the otherwise disastrous second wave was the ramping up of the healthcare infrastructure.

Published: 25th October 2021 08:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th October 2021 08:17 AM   |  A+A-

Vaccine, COVID 19 Vaccine

A health worker administers Covid-19 vaccine to a woman in Mysuru. (Photo | Udayshankar S, EPS)

Amid the general euphoria over crossing the 1 billion landmark of total vaccinations, reports of detection of presumably the most contagious strain of the coronavirus, Delta Plus, have started emerging in parts of the country. If Delta created havoc during the second wave, with the mutation first being detected in Maharashtra and Punjab, cases of AY.4.2, called Delta Plus, have been found during genomic sequencing in India of late.

The UK has over 15,000 cases of AY.4.2 since it was first detected in July last, which works out to 6% of all Covid cases there, prompting health authorities to categorise it as a variant under investigation. Its steady growth has been reported in Israel and Russia as well. Add to that a few cases in the US and Denmark, and there is global concern over how to manage it. In India, its percentage is less than 0.1 at present, so there are no immediate problems. But with international travel opening up, chances of the variant flying in multiply. Hence, arrival gatekeeping has to be done rigorously.

Parallelly, AY.4, another sub-lineage of Delta, has already been detected in genomic samples from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. So there is no room for complacency. It’s in this context that reports of people skipping or delaying their second shot of the vaccine is worrying. They ought to understand that despite being fully vaccinated, Israel is witnessing breakthrough infections, forcing it to go for booster shots. Russia has announced a week-long lockdown as cases continue to go north, partially because of extremely high vaccine hesitancy.

One of the takeaways of the otherwise disastrous second wave was the ramping up of the healthcare infrastructure. While the administration surely deserves credit for combating the scourge with its humongous vaccine rollout, the civil society and judiciary did their part in prodding the government to do the right thing. From forcing it to amend its vaccine purchase policy and streamlining supply of scarce oxygen to offering relief to the next of kin of Covid victims, they kept the government on its toes and strengthened democracy. Their participatory role cannot be lost sight of.



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