Covid-19 this week: Third wave fears loom large, kids to get vaccines soon
The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) threat in India still looms large above a population battered by two devastating waves of the pandemic and an ailing healthcare infrastructure. Although the country has been witnessing a decline in the number of daily new cases, talks of a potential third wave have raised concerns.
India reported 38,949 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Union health ministry update on Friday. As many as 542 people died and 40,026 recovered from the viral disease in the said period, taking the cumulative death toll and recoveries to 412,531 and 30,183,876 respectively. The active cases of Covid-19 stand at 430,422 and constitute 1.39 per cent of the caseload, the health ministry’s update further showed.
The central government warned that the possibility of a third wave is very real as India's population is yet to get herd immunity. The next 100-125 days in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic will be critical, NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul said on Friday, adding that people need to remain 'cautious'.
"The question of the third wave keeps coming back," Paul said during a press conference on Friday. "This is because our population is still very vulnerable. We still have not reached the stage of herd immunity nor do we want to acquire herd immunity through infections."
Speaking of the third wave of the coronavirus disease, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that it may hit India at the end of August but may not be as deadly as the second wave.
"There would be a nationwide third wave but that does not mean that it would be as high or as intense as the second wave," Dr Samiran Panda, the head of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told a Delhi-based news organisation.
He also said that there could be a variant of the coronavirus that can bypass the acquired immunity and if the new variant doesn't do that it can circulate fast in the population. The Covid-19 third wave could also be brought about by the premature easing of Covid-19 curbs by states, Panda said.
The Supreme Court on Friday observed that “the Uttar Pradesh government cannot go ahead with the Kanwar yatra - 100%”, asking the state to either withdraw the decision to allow the religious pilgrimage “in the interest of the health of the citizenry of India”, or invite an order from the court.
Citing widespread fears of a third wave of Covid-19, the bench of justices Rohinton F Nariman and BR Gavai gave the state government time till Monday to reconsider its decision of allowing the Kanwar yatra due to “compelling religious reasons” and convey it to the court.
The Union government told the Delhi high court this week that Covid-19 vaccines for children below the age of 18 years will be available “in the near future” as the clinical trials are on the verge of completion.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was informed by Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma that Zydus Cadila, which is developing DNA vaccines for Covid-19, has concluded its clinical trial for children between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age and is awaiting statutory permission.
Lastly, since Covid-19 has wrecked lives, devastated families, and destroyed livelihoods, an inquiry into the excess deaths due to the pandemic is an important issue that needs redressal.
The commonly used methodology of quantifying excess deaths based on India’s civil registry system (CRS), however, is not suited to address this. Any analysis based on it is likely to be misleading. The stark reality of India’s data system is that all deaths are still not accounted for; they are estimated based on demographic surveys.
A few critical issues merit consideration. First, historically, CRS is not the source of estimates of deaths at the national, state, or city level for three important reasons. One, not all deaths in India are registered (primarily of women and those residing in rural areas); two, registered deaths are not necessarily domiciliary, that is, place of death could be different from where a person typically resides; and three, deaths, if registered at all, are not reported promptly, a large number of registrations happen after the stipulated 21-day period, and, in some cases, beyond a year.