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COVID-19 New Cases Show A Decline, But Experts Warn Against Complacency As India Gears Up Vaccination In Phases

Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Institute of Chest Surgery, Medanta Hospital says, social distancing, wearing of mask and hand hygiene are the three main pillars of fight against Coronavirus

COVID-19 New Cases Show A Decline, But Experts Warn Against Complacency As India Gears Up Vaccination In Phases
Highlights
  • Lately, India has been reporting less than 30,000 new COVID-19 cases
  • The next four to six months could be the worst of the pandemic: Bill Gates
  • 30 crore people in 3 priority groups will be vaccinated first against COVI

New Delhi: On December 21, for the eighth consecutive day, India reported less than 30,000 new COVID-19 cases. The daily growth in COVID-19 cases in the country peaked on September 17 when the country reported a record rise of around 98,000 fresh cases but after that, a decline is being seen. If the current trend continues, by the end of December it is being speculated that not more than 20,000 cases are likely to get detected every day. Talking to NDTV about India’s current COVID-19 trends, Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Institute of Chest Surgery, Medanta Hospital, said, the number of cases coming down is a matter of satisfaction but there is also a need to not be complacent. He said,

This is a very dangerous, highly infectious virus. You take measures and it gets controlled, you lower your guard and don’t take measures and it will rebound with 10 times the number. The situation is that the numbers are coming under control but that should not lead people into complacency and lead people to say goodbye to masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.

Also Read: Santa Claus Sanitises Public Places In Mumbai And Distributes Masks

In an interview with CNN on December 13, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that has been a part of the effort to develop and deliver COVID-19 vaccines, warned that the next four to six months could be the worst of the pandemic. He said,

The IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) forecast shows over 2 lakh additional deaths. If we would follow the rules, in terms of wearing masks and not mixing, we could avoid a large percentage of those deaths.

While COVID-19 numbers in India are coming down, Mr Gates’ prediction seems frightening. This at a time when various vaccine candidates against COVID-19 are getting emergency use authorisation and there seems to be a light appearing at the end of the tunnel.

Talking about Mr Gates’ prediction and the hope of a vaccine soon, Dr Kumar said,

What we have learned from this pandemic in the last 11 months is that social distancing, wearing of a mask and hand hygiene are the three main pillars on which control or otherwise of this virus rests. We were very hopeful about a large number of medicines, well, they are there, but I don’t think anything has proved to be more effective than these three basic measures. Today, everybody is pinning their hopes on a vaccine, there is so much buzz about the vaccine but I want to issue a note of caution here that first of all, vaccines will become effective when a significantly large, that is over 70 per cent of the population has been vaccinated and has developed adequate antibodies which is quite a task for the entire world to do that much vaccination. Till the time we achieve that we will have to continue using these three precautions.

Also Read: Vaccination For COVID-19 Will Be Voluntary, Advisable To Receive Complete Schedule Of Vaccine: Health Ministry

Dr Kumar added that Mr Gates’ prediction is based on the basis of an analysis done by IHME and the fact that people have bid adieu to basic COVID precautionary measures which is resulting in a massive rise in the number of cases and deaths.

Dr Kumar also noted that the news of vaccine has created a buzz among people who now believe that vaccine has come so there is no need for social distancing. He added,

This is going to lead to a disaster and that’s something which we should warn people again and again because this might lead to a third or fourth massive spike in the number of cases if that happens.

Dr Kumar informs that typically, the process of vaccine development takes a minimum of five to six years whereas the total duration we have had with this pandemic is about a year. He lauded the scientists working on the development of a vaccine and making it available within a span of a year but also noted that a lot of things about a vaccine are still unknown. He said,

I must say that a lot of things which otherwise would have been done in the process of vaccine development have been kept on hold and they are being given emergency use authorisation for obvious reasons which is the right thing to do. There are many aspects of this vaccine that we don’t know. For example, we don’t know how long these antibodies will last in the body and will continue to be effective in preventing the viral. Having an antibody is one thing and that antibody being able to protect the person from infection or reinfection is another issue that needs to be checked and tested on a long term basis. These studies are still going on. There is a lot of data which is available but there is a huge amount of data which still needs to be generated which will answer many of the unanswered questions as of today.

Also Read: COVID-19 Vaccines Not A Silver Bullet To End The Pandemic: World Health Organisation

But will a vaccine against COVID-19 end the pandemic? The World Health Organisation (WHO) says a vaccine is not a silver bullet. In a media briefing on December 4, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said,

Even as vaccines are rolled out, people will need to keep adhering to public health measures so that everyone is protected.

In India, to begin with, a small percentage of people will be vaccinated which according to AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria will take four to six months. The government’s National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) has recommended vaccinating 30 crore people in three priority groups – 1 crore healthcare workers (HCWs), healthcare providers and workers in a healthcare setting; 2 crore frontline Workers; 27 crore prioritised age group population above 50 years and persons below 50 years with associated co-morbidities. However, Dr Guleria is hopeful that the chain of transmission of Coronavirus can be broken in six months. While talking to NDTV, he said,

In the next six months, we will have two things, one is we will have a sufficient number of individuals who have got infected and recovered and have some degree of immunity and the vaccine itself will also provide some immunity so as to break the chain of the transmission and bring down mortality. I am not saying that COVID will go away in six months, COVID will stay for quite some time but we will be in a much better position to say that we are now back to near normal. But I think we will have to wait maybe for a year or so before we can say that yes, we have now really gone to what we call post pandemic phase.

Before signing off, Dr Kumar reiterated the importance of COVID-19 precautionary measures and called for being very careful and cautious in opening educational institutions, malls, markets, gymnasiums, parlous, and all those areas where close face to face contact is possible or a large number of people can gather in a small area. He said,

More the pool of infected people, faster the infection will spread. So, I again stress, vaccine or no vaccine, lowering of numbers or no lowering of numbers, mask, social distancing, and hand hygiene are here to stay for the next six months at least. If we don’t do that, we will face the consequences.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak: Experts Discuss Road To Recovery From COVID

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

26,43,68,460Cases
22,50,84,762Active
3,40,45,666Recovered
52,38,032Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,43,68,460 and 52,38,032 have died; 22,50,84,762 are active cases and 3,40,45,666 have recovered as on December 3, 2021 at 1:36 pm.

India

3,46,15,757 9,216Cases
99,976 213Active
3,40,45,666 8,612Recovered
4,70,115 391Deaths
In India, there are 3,46,15,757 confirmed cases including 4,70,115 deaths. The number of active cases is 99,976 and 3,40,45,666 have recovered as on December 3, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,37,221 796

10,882 180

64,85,290 952

1,41,049 24

Kerala

51,51,919 4,700

45,030 252

50,66,034 4,128

40,855 320

Karnataka

29,96,833 363

6,772 169

29,51,845 191

38,216 3

Tamil Nadu

27,28,350 715

8,155 45

26,83,691 748

36,504 12

Andhra Pradesh

20,73,252 159

2,138 11

20,56,670 169

14,444 1

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,417 12

93 1

16,87,413 11

22,911

West Bengal

16,17,408 657

7,690 22

15,90,208 667

19,510 12

Delhi

14,41,190 217

307 21

14,15,785 196

25,098

Odisha

10,49,597 252

2,211 26

10,38,971 276

8,415 2

Chhattisgarh

10,06,870 37

328 12

9,92,949 25

13,593

Rajasthan

9,54,827 21

213 10

9,45,659 11

8,955

Gujarat

8,27,570 50

318 25

8,17,158 24

10,094 1

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,199 12

128 4

7,82,543 8

10,528

Haryana

7,71,760 27

178 9

7,61,528 18

10,054

Bihar

7,26,230 5

32 0

7,16,534 4

9,664 1

Telangana

6,76,376 189

3,680 50

6,68,701 137

3,995 2

Assam

6,17,163 124

2,535 77

6,08,517 198

6,111 3

Punjab

6,03,352 32

344 13

5,86,402 18

16,606 1

Jharkhand

3,49,271 15

95 1

3,44,035 13

5,141 1

Uttarakhand

3,44,325 22

182 4

3,36,735 18

7,408

Jammu And Kashmir

3,37,263 177

1,697 10

3,31,089 167

4,477

Himachal Pradesh

2,27,354 85

835 29

2,22,669 113

3,850 1

Goa

1,79,046 56

367 40

1,75,295 16

3,384

Mizoram

1,35,765 315

3,717 55

1,31,545 368

503 2

Puducherry

1,28,998 33

299 10

1,26,826 23

1,873

Manipur

1,25,269 33

663 4

1,22,627 28

1,979 1

Tripura

84,835 15

94 6

83,916 8

825 1

Meghalaya

84,534 24

296 2

82,764 25

1,474 1

Chandigarh

65,475 4

65 1

64,590 5

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,285 6

36 1

54,969 5

280

Sikkim

32,267 15

137 10

31,727 5

403

Nagaland

32,128 3

128 5

31,302 6

698 2

Ladakh

21,642 41

306 21

21,122 20

214

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

0 1

10,679 1

4

Lakshadweep

10,397 1

18 8

10,328 9

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,686 3

7 2

7,550 1

129

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