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We cannot afford to lose the COVID battle

Four days ago, the world reached a grim milestone of three million deaths related to coronavirus, according to a Reuters tally. Since then, the numbers are rising fast, led by Brazil and India where new infections appear to have gone out of control, stretching hospitals and filing morgues. Both the nations are facing a ferocious second wave and few epidemiologist are willing to predict a peak at this moment.

For India particularly, a nation of over 1.3 billion people, the pandemic has taken a very aggressive turn and new infections are setting new records every day. While the hospitals are forced to turn away growing number of patients in hotspot states such as Maharashtra, several states are reporting shortage of vaccines. Yesterday, 132,000 cases were added in just 24 hours, a very high rate of infection and vaccine shortage threatening to derail the country’s battle against the pandemic. Yesterday, private hospitals in Mumbai ran out of vaccines and field hospitals turned people away.

Also yesterday, a World Health Organisation official described the growing infections in Brazil as a “raging inferno of an outbreak”. On Thursday, the country recorded over 4,200 deaths, just short of a single day record of 4,405 deaths registered by the United States on January 20. While the international community has made tremendous progress in vaccinating people, growing infections and deaths show that the virus is not receding in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, there is nothing to suggest we won’t see more grim milestones in the coming months. The record growth in India will impact vaccination in several parts of the world as the country’s government is under pressure to prioritise domestic inoculation before exporting. This means nations banking on made in India vaccines will have to wait longer, a delay that may lead to fresh outbreaks and deaths.

Are we losing the battle? The answer has to be a big no. Early this week, the United Kingdom report a dramatic 60 per cent drop in new infections, thanks to efficient inoculation and smart national lockdowns. Although, new infections are levelling off, experts are urging caution ahead of the next lifting of restrictions on April 12 when children to return to schools in UK. This will be a big test for the country, if it is able to keep the numbers low then other nations must also consider widespread vaccinations and aggressive restrictions to stem the surge.