According to Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization, India is better prepared to prevent new waves of Covid-19 from wreaking havoc in the country.
The South Asian nation suffered a devastating second wave between February and early May, in which daily infection cases and death rates rose at an alarming rate, pushing the healthcare system to the brink of collapse.
Since then, the number of cases has declined and it currently averages around 30,000 to 40,000 per day. The rate of vaccination has also increased rapidly.
Appearing on CNBC’s “Street Science Asia” on Wednesday, Swaminathan said the world has learned enough about the coronavirus to understand what vulnerabilities it exploits in the human body and what means to combat it. Public health tools and measures are effective.
“I think we are better equipped now in India, but also in other countries, to prevent any devastating waves from happening.”
third wave expected
India expects a third wave of infections this year. But the general consensus among many public health experts is that its effects are likely to be less severe than those of the first two waves.
“I think the readiness at the health system level has really increased, especially when it comes to oxygen and critical care settings,” Swaminathan said.
“It is also necessary to increase the health workforce because only equipment, materials and drugs are not enough. We also need nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, intensive care technicians and others trained, ”he said.
Swaminathan said a combination of vaccination and other public health measures – such as wearing masks, especially in indoor spaces, avoiding large gatherings and ensuring high levels of testing – could provide early warnings that could prevent another explosive epidemic. could.
During the second wave, hospitals in India initially struggled with bed shortages and limited supplies of oxygen and medicine, causing serious distress to healthcare professionals.
India’s vaccination targets
People line up to receive a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine outside a shopping mall on August 11, 2021 in Mumbai, India.
Francis Mascarenhas | Reuters
Swaminathan said the pace of vaccination in India has picked up in recent weeks.
“At this rate, it should be possible to achieve the goal of immunizing almost all adults in the country. It’s a huge population – 700 million doses already given, ”she said. “There is still a long way to go, but if this momentum continues, if the supply from manufacturers continues, then … I think it should be possible to achieve this goal.”
Government data shows India has administered an average of around 7.5 million doses per day since September 1. As of August 31, approximately 14.1 million doses have been administered.
Although the vaccination is voluntary, more than 50,000 public establishments offer the vaccines free of charge. People can also pay to receive them in more than 2,800 private centers.