New Delhi: Over the past 15 to 16 days, the R-rate or Reproduction Rate of the COVID-19 virus has gone up, which essentially means the rate at which one person infects other people. According to experts, It is necessary that this R rate remains below 1 per cent significantly otherwise it is considered to be a cause of great concern.
As per the data, from June 20, R-rate has been slowly increasing in India, what was at .75, a month ago is now at .95. On the other hand, the worry is low vaccination rates in India. According to the data by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on June 20, India had vaccinated 88 lakh people, the highest so far, but since then it has consistently gone down and down.
NDTV speaks with experts and asks if low vaccination and High R rate cause concern for India, does these warning signs mean we are inching towards the third wave?
Talking about the increase in R-Rate in India, Professor Manindra Agarwal, Covid Supermodeling Panel said,
The increase in R-Rate is happening because of few states like Maharashtra and Kerala. The number of cases expected to come down there is not coming down and the reason is that they have aimed at controlling the extent of the pandemic for an extended period of time and as comparative to other states the number of people immune there are less, therefore, we are seeing a surge in those states, which is linked to an increase in India’s R number.
On the other hand, talking about factors that determine the rise in R-factor and how important is to get the vaccinations number up in India, Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, Epidemiologist and Health Systems specialist, said,
Any rise in the COVID-19 cases depends on four factors – one is how best we follow COVID appropriate behaviours, second is how better we can step up vaccination in the country and aim at vaccinating as many people as possible, third is about the natural immunity among people against the virus and how fast or slow it will decline and lastly what all new variants will emerge. Since we cannot do much about the last two factors the only thing in our hands is the first two options – following the Covid appropriate behaviour and getting vaccinated.
He further said that earlier experts were anticipating that the third wave in India will emerge in November. He added,
But looking at the vaccination rate and the way people are disobeying Covid appropriate behaviour, we can say the third wave can hit India early. India has vaccinated only 5.5 per cent of the population with the double doses in contrast to the fact that UK has vaccinated over 51 per cent of their population and USA has vaccinated 47 per cent of their population. In terms of vaccination, we are very different from UK and USA, we don’t have the kind of vaccination supplies these countries had. So, definitely, we need to be more and more cautious.
Reiterating the same fact, Dr J A Jayalal, President IMA added,
We should not neglect these warning signs of the third wave, we should act upon them as early as we can so that we can manage the severity of the wave. At local levels, we can implement self-lockdowns, we should try and focus on building containment zones, especially in those areas where the cases are rising. The only way forward to beat the third wave is via containment strategy, by following Covid appropriate behaviour along with pacing the rate of vaccination.
Highlighting the low rate of vaccination is a cause of worry in India, Dr Aviral Vatsa, Physician, NHS, Scotland, UK said,
Vaccination in UK has crossed 50 per cent mark, still we are seeing a rise in cases there. The good thing that is coming from the UK data is that double doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prevent hospitalisation and severity of COVID disease, so that link between the virus and patients have definitely been weaken by the vaccination. Now considering these facts, when we look at the scenario in India – we see COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is not being followed properly, the pace of vaccination has not increased. We also need to remember that the more the transmission is, the more chances of new variants being emerging, and spreading are there. So, all this is definitely a cause of great concern.
Speaking about the strategy India should adopt when it comes to COVID-19, Dr Chandrakant Lahariya suggested,
First we should aim at offering a single shot to as many people as we can and then move on to double doses for all. The purpose should be to reduce the hospitalisation and deaths due to COVID-19. As far as the third wave is concerned, it is unlikely that the delta variant will cause the third wave in India. Estimates are that 60 to 70 per cent of the population has been exposed to delta variant and got some form of immunity. But, we should remember that 30 to 40 per cent of people can still get infected and drive the third wave, however, chances of it being severe will be less.
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 (Water, Sanitation 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 pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.