Covid-19: The threat of a second wave
Maharashtra is seeing a resurgence of Covid-19 cases again, weeks after the state government relaxed some restrictions, including the wider opening of the Mumbai local trains. The spike is particularly noticeable in Mumbai and its surrounding areas, and has been attributed by experts to the resumption of trains, relaxation of curbs and the laxity in Covid-19-appropriate behaviour. The seven-day average of daily infections in the state (also referred to as the case trajectory of a region) has increased by 800 cases a day in the last six days. It was 2,415 for the week ending January 11 (the lowest since May), and has touched 3,215 on January 17. This is a worrying trend for a state that has been worst-hit by Covid-19 in the country by a massive margin.
This rise has coincided with the detection of the two mutations of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in India. Scientists fear this can make vaccines less effective and trigger re-infections. India now has all three of the coronavirus variants that have caused a massive resurgence of cases globally — B.1.1.7, first discovered in the United Kingdom; B.1.351, dominant in South Africa; and P.1, from Brazil. These have a unique collection of mutations, which make them spread more readily or cheat vaccine-immunity.
An increase in cases in hotspots such as Maharashtra, coupled with the presence of more dangerous variants in the country, generates fears that the pandemic may begin a much-feared second wave. Complacency now, among governments and people alike, when a vaccine roll-out is underway and cases nationwide are at the lowest level in over eight months, can undo months of progress and sacrifices made in the fight against the disease.