FROM CORONA TO OMICRON: APPREHENSION OR FEAR LINGERS ON
As we come close to the challenging, painful or excruciating phase of Covid dominated life, Is it not the appropriate time to re-assess, re-prioritise, if Not merely to Re Plan ?
(2) It is not for business, profit, loss or gain. Its going to be FOR OUR VERY SURVIVAL in the midst of an “object”,we are yet to see but the one that has claimed millions of lives the world over, including 4.78 lakh deaths from 34,751,889 cases in India at a time when 88% of eligible population have reportedly received First dose of vaccination and 58% fully vaccinated (Min.of H & FW data) in eleven and a half months.
(3) Cause of renewed worry and anxiety lies in the past devastating pandemics of Spanish Flu,MERSE,SARS-I and may be, certain man triggered or natural calamities, our eyes could not see or ears could not hear or mind or senses could not comprehend or visualize.
Well it’s a shift or change from the Coronotics or Corona phase to the Omicron.
No sooner than later, we may be or could be seeing enhanced wrath of World wide Bio or Virus impact.
Adverse Effect All Over
(4) Over the last two years from unfortunate genesis in Wuhan, China, it is now centred around Africa upon having traversed to Korea,Iran,Middle East, West Europe, USA, Latin America etc.
Even the latest variant has been so swiftly discovered in as many as 97 countries as per Internal findings of WHO.
The World body in general and the British P.M. in particular have not only called for stepped up efforts but also deferring of X’mas and new year celebrations by two weeks to one month.
Anxiety & Losses
(5) Virtually fed up by overall boredom as also unimaginable losses by tourism and producer goods enterprises, protests galore in most of Europe,USA and oblique within our own relatively affordable labour market set up.
Over ninety one thousand Omicron cases in 24 hours in U.K. as compared to 28 millions vaccinated, leading so far to 1,47,000 casualties (44 in just 28 days), by any counts is an astounding and scaring figure.
As per reliable analysis, such a surge is three times more than the increase in cases at this time in 2020.
Shift to Sombre & Subdued
(6) On the other hand, X’mas has already become a sombre and subdued affair and tiny Tots and teenagers denied entry to schools in many countries, such as, France (92% fully vaccinated), Germany, Netherland, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal (maximum vaccinated in the world), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China and Thailand.
Tightening of Curbs
(7) Coming to tightening of measures and announcing fresh curbs, apart from U.K. and West Europe, while Switzerland and Wales are meaning business in their “fifth” and fresh waves, respectively, USA has declared that vaccines are critical for maintaining armed forces, so much so that more than one hundred marines have been removed, twenty thousand reprimanded and thousands have been discharged.
Vaccine Saga and India’s Lead
(8) Not withstanding the massive surge in confirmed infected cases in India and neighbourhood ,if one talks of edge of positives over negative , in less than a year, we had three vaccines that has risen to about eight to ten.
The specific vaccine, as we know, was first administered in U.K. in first week of December 2020, followed a week later by USA.
India, the largest vaccine manufacturer, though being leader in its research, naturally received bouquets and brickbats. Thus testing of ‘local’ Covishield and Covaxin vaccines spearheaded by the P.M. Narendra Modi himself became a sort of natural corollary and highlighted event.
Divide Between The Developed and Poor Africa
(9) It is not that vaccines were not possible for Covid-19 or SARS-II, in the light of such a success during SARS-I ,a decade ago which saw barely 747 deaths.
From initial hitch to a gradual compromise as a life saving device, the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Oxford, Moderna and our own ‘desi’ Covaxin of Bharat Biotics could spread everywhere and provided needed succour to the humanity.
The same humanity that benefited the developed world first (some like Canada procured more than their requirement), left in lurch, the poor, politically and economically shaken African nations.
Through The Waves
(10) From First wave (March to July 2020 to Wave IA (September to November 2020) to Wave Two (April to July 2021) to alleged or claimed Wave Three between August to October 2021 and the Fresh Wave probably by change of name and overall impact – Beta to Delta to Omicron and its latest and supposedly more stronger variant has been a long, rather and never ending saga. WHY SO ?
(11) When 70 to 75% of West Europe and USA have vaccinated their adult population by the first dose and a vastly populated India upto 55% (137.50 crores), fresh doubts have arisen whether the 34 to 40% second dose vaccinated ones, would be able to withstand the onslaught of more devastating Omicron or its latest ‘cousin’. It is also being keenly debated.
While Imperial College of London study does not show more strength in Omicron variant than the Delta one, a study of 400 samples in China has indicated that leading vaccines approved by the WHO are effective. Similar sentiments have been expressed by the Director, AIIMS, India when he has opined that Omicron is milder as compared to the previous Delta variant.
This disclosure has come at a time when 49 thousand Covid cases have been reported in India in just one week (lowest in 19 months).
(12) Mind it, we are still talking of the most vulnerable front liners or the adult population upto 60 to 65 years of age. Unfortunately, the doses meant for the children and teenagers do get talked about but kept getting side tracked when we resort back to face to face education for a brief while as opposed to largely ineffective and time wasting E-learning process. Needless to say, in the fast educational hinterland of India, it has become a “Roller Coaster Ride”.
Some children do not even know names of their schools, yet they manage to CLEAR two classes (standards) in succession, sitting at home.
To make matters worse, for the vital 9th to 12th classes ,now there is no need to take examination.Such a dismal scenario has rightly led D.U. to announce All India Entrance Tests for Specialised as also less sought after courses from academic year 2022-23. It goes without saying that these courses have been “attacked” by the high percentage BUG.
(13) The country has to run and without careful and cautious handling of health and education sectors, we are certain to hit a bottom line.
(14) Against such a backdrop LET US NOT LOWER OUR GUARD AGAINST THE LATEST COVID VARIANT.
The prevailing insensitive, casual and careless attitude, coupled with getting back to re-socialisation in terms of unnecessary walks, tours, outings, festivals may once again prove very expensive.
In addition to the WHO, the NITI Aayog and now topmost Omicron specialists and analysts are predicting/sooth saying 8 to 10 lakh cases a day during the next wave as compared to 4.5 lakh cases a day during the Wave Two in intense and painful Summer of 2021.
(15) It’s not a guess or conjecture.Let us take it as a life saving device by forgetting for the time being the Booster dose or an upgraded version or the soon promised single dose or for that matter, a Nasal dose, being talked about almost for six months or may be more.
(16) Over the four consecutive days, when minimum temperature is hovering between sub zero to 2.9 to 5 degree celsius in most of the northern India, average AQI of 324 to 332, is yet again in “very poor” category and the overall Omicron tally stands close to 180, Shall we not be more cautious and serious ?
(17) Not only pertaining to automobile pollution, dust control and waste management, for the life, per se, let us try to have adequate saving mechanism from the consistent bouts of revived anxiety and depression.
Already Sensex has tanked 1190 points amid Omicron Worry and the annual & crucial World Economic Forum at Davos has postponed its meet from January until mid-2022.
LET REBUILD OUR NEST.
(The author is former Chief Secretary, Sikkim)