Light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel

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 As we enter the month of November, 2020, we, in India, can now clearly see the light at the end of the corona tunnel. The daily corona cases across the country have now halved from the 97000 odd that were seen not very long ago. For quite a few days now, the number has been below 50,000.

Even as we see light at the end of the corona tunnel, it is now clear that fear of corona is worse than corona itself. While the number of cases has come down in the country, it is clear that the coronavirus is not going to vanish any time soon. At a low level, this viral infection will remain in our midst, breaking out in one place or the other, causing alarm.

It is the fear of coronavirus that is keeping people from venturing out and indulging in normal activities of the pre-corona days. Thus, corona has brought about a new normal as far as social behaviour is concerned.

So, when will corona actually get over? That will take a very long time on its own, or a bit more quickly if and when a vaccine arrives. The vaccine is taking its own sweet time in coming. That is why, our country is ready to roll out the vaccine, which is even being used to bring in votes in the Bihar elections, even as the vaccine has not yet arrived. Being prepared is a good idea, since that will enable our healthcare system to administer the vaccine to crores of people quickly as and when it arrives, and thus see the back of this pandemic.

Epidemiologists are suggesting that the coronavirus is now facing resistance in India because herd immunity is visible in some areas. They say that as long as there are a lot of people who are susceptible, the virus will keep infecting people with ease. But when a large number of people have been infected and have thus become immune, the virus will find it difficult to infect more people, and the number of infections will come down.

They point out that the halving of the cases across India, despite the number of tests going up, is a case in point. The virus is finding it difficult to infect more people as the number of not-yet-infected people keeps falling with every passing day.

It is being said that parts of the country, especially those having thickly populated urban slums, have already achieved a degree of herd immunity and very few new cases are being found there.

The problem with herd immunity is that it does not mean that there will not be any new case. It means that the virus will find it increasingly difficult to infect new people which is why there will be far fewer cases.

For instance, Delhi had achieved a degree of herd immunity in the month of September and then the number of new cases had fallen to 1000 per day. But then Delhi has a huge floating population running to almost one crore individuals, who are now coming back to Delhi from areas that have not yet achieved herd immunity. As they arrive at the train stations and bus stops in Delhi, they are taken to rapid corona test sites and quarantined if they have the virus. This process has boosted the number of cases in Delhi, which are now the highest ever for five days running. Blissfully, the corona deaths in Delhi are less than half or one-third of what they were in June.

The surmise from this turn of events in Delhi is that no part of the country, no city or rural area, can bid goodbye to corona without the area around it being free of corona. For, the floating population will always upset the apple cart.

That brings us back to the wait for the vaccine. While naturally attained herd immunity will progress on its own, whether we like it or not, it is the vaccine which will deliver the death blow to the coronavirus as and when it comes. Till then, the march of the coronavirus is to its own detriment, for, everyday, the time is naturally running out for the virus.

Thankfully, the case fatality rate of the coronavirus in India has been very low and most infected have been asymptomatic. The Gods have been kind to our country, and let us count our blessings.


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