Rajat Sharma

Why vaccination of 70 per cent Indians is a must

akbThe danger of pandemic in India is still there and people in the streets have already started flouting Covid-19 guidelines. The danger of a third wave is lurking and if we are not cautious in time, we can face a similar situation that has now occurred in Australia. Despite Covid restrictions, number of Covid-19 cases has suddenly taken a jump in Australia. There are long queues of people outside testing centres, waiting for RT-PCR test. Lockdown has been extended in the four major cities, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Darwin, and nearly half of the population in Australia is now following stay-at-home orders.

More than 5 million residents in Greater Sydney are under a two-week lockdown till July 9. The virus is spreading in New South Wales. Singapore has ordered one-week compulsory quarantine for all travellers coming from Australia. Less than five per cent of the two crore adult population in Australia has been vaccinated so far, leading to criticisms from public. Australian government has decided to vaccinate all adults with AstraZeneca vaccine. Earlier the vaccination was limited to people above 50 years.

We must learn lessons from what is happening in Australia. Mass vaccination of at least 70 per cent of India’s population is a must to prevent the outbreak of pandemic for the third time. On Tuesday, the Centre cleared the US-made Moderna vaccine for restricted emergency use in India. This is the fourth Covid vaccine cleared for use in India, after Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V. Indian pharma company Cipla will import Moderna vaccine to India. Talks are on for giving approval to another US-made Pfizer vaccine for use in India. So there will be no dearth of vaccine. We now have to figh vaccine hesitancy. Our people must be made aware that vaccination is the only way to keep the third wave away.

I want to give examples from four countries where mass Covid vaccination has done wonders and has now prevented the outbreak of pandemic.

First, the United States, where the pandemic was coming in waves after every three months. Lakhs of people died. But when 20 per cent of the population got their first dose, five months have elapsed and a fresh wave of pandemic is yet to come. Today 15.42 crore Americans have been fully vaccinated. This is roughly 46.4 per cent of the US population. 54.2 per cent of Americans have received at least one dose till now.

Second, the UK, where the pandemic wave used to come after every three months, but when 20 pc of population got their vaccine dose, the wave stopped coming. Earlier 65,000 fresh cases used to come daily, but now this has dipped to nearly 10,000 cases.

Third, Italy, where the second wave came after three months, and a third wave came in the fourth month. When 20 per cent of the population in Italy got their first dose, the number of cases started dipping fast. By next month, Italians may be allowed to move around in public places without wearing masks.

Fourth, France, where the pandemic wave used to come after every three months. By February, 20 per cent of people in France got vaccinated, and now, after four months, the number of cases has started declining.

In India, 33 crore 28 lakh 54,527 Covid vaccine doses have already been given till now. This accounts for a little more than 20 per cent. If we go by the trends in the four countries that I have mentioned above, there seems to be less chance of a third wave coming. But, precaution is a must. We must follow Covid appropriate behaviour in public for the next two to three months. If we vaccinate at least 70 per cent of our citizens by the end of this year, we can then say with certainty that the danger of pandemic is over.

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