THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the number of people dying of Covid increasing steadily, serious questions are being raised about the state’s strategy on containment, testing and vaccination.
Kerala continues to report the highest daily death count in the country, with the total toll touching 18,280.
More than 3,000 people died in the last 28 days — 160 on Thursday alone — due to Covid. The number of seriously ill patients is also on the rise, which might keep the death count high. Experts say Kerala, which once had the lowest case-fatality ratio, will catch up with other states in terms of death toll.
The Kerala model had won praise when the state flattened the curve during the first wave, with all patients getting treatment without overwhelming the health system. But the time bought could not be utilised effectively for increasing the vaccine coverage and reducing the daily deaths.
“The number of deaths will remain high until mid-September and we’ll catch up with other states. The treatment protocol is almost the same in all states. The way we manage the caseload and avoid deaths at home will be the only difference in the final analysis,” said internal medicine specialist and public health activist Dr N M Arun.
The stringent lockdown pushed lakhs of people into severe economic crisis, but experts wonder whether it served its purpose.
“We would have saved 200-250 per million in the 3.5 crore population. So we have successfully contained the pandemic till now,” said immunologist Dr Padmanabha Shenoy.
“Delaying the peak was meant to give vaccine cover to the susceptible population. But it did not happen at desired pace. So the death toll is likely to end up at 200 per million. If we could reduce mortality by 50%, it is worth sacrificing the economic impact on people,” said Dr Shenoy.
Dr Arun also blamed the vaccine policy for the deaths.
“A sero prevalence of 44 means more people can turn positive and die. Increasing vaccination could have made some difference. Unfortunately the most needy are not taking vaccines. Priority should have been to vaccinate the most vulnerable first. It means vaccination in the 18-44 age-group should have been delayed,” he said.
The Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics chairman Dr U Nandakumar Nair said the failure to control lifestyle diseases contributed directly to the toll.
“Every epidemic has a nature: Whom to hurt the most. In the case of Covid, it is the elderly and those with comorbidities. While we can’t do much about ageing, death among people with comorbidities could have been reduced. But we have very poor control over it. Lack of scientific temperament is worseing the situation,” he said.
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