Editorial: Don’t let your guard down

Ahead of New Year’s eve, amid the threat of a third wave looming in the backdrop of the festive season, several states have imposed precautionary measures.
Editorial: Don’t let your guard down
Representative image

New Delhi

While New Delhi, Karnataka, UP, and Assam are among the eight states that have imposed night curfew, states like Haryana and Maharashtra have imposed curbs against group events. 
An upgrade on masking norms is in the mail as experts in Maharashtra have also asked citizens to get double-masked or opt for N95 or FFP2 (or filtering facepiece masks).
This caution is not unfounded. On December 27, 2021, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres sounded an alert that infectious diseases pose “a clear and present danger to every country” and there is a renewed call for caution as nations around the world brace for another surge in COVID-19 cases — this time, courtesy the Omicron variant. 
These developments have come in the wake of numerous First World countries struggling to keep their populations safe as record numbers of breakthrough infections of the Omicron variant are being reported globally. 
It may be noted that many of these nations including the US, UK, Canada, Germany and Israel had already begun the process of delivering the third/booster dose of the COVID vaccine to their populations much ahead of India. However, the relentless march of the Omicron strain has ensured that most of these nations are under one or the other form of lockdown. 
The devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic revealed how unprepared the world was to deal with a health emergency of this magnitude. The 2021 Global Health Security (GHS) Index released recently, also confirmed that countries across all income levels, including India, are still unprepared to meet future epidemic and pandemic threats.
Having said that, as per the findings of several new studies, it has been suggested that the impact of the Omicron strain might not be as deadly as that of the Delta variant, which had swept India earlier in March this year, leading to the loss of thousands of lives and livelihoods. 
The general population, which has by now gained a certain level of immunity, thanks to vaccinations, as well as prior infections, seems to be placed much better this time around. 
In April, when the Delta variant was running rampant across the nation, just about 1.9% of Indians were fully vaccinated, while 7.1% were partially vaccinated. As of the third week of December, at least 41% of India’s citizens have gotten both shots of the vaccine, while 19% have received at least one dose.
As India, along with the rest of the world, collectively enters the third year of the pandemic, perched on the cusp of a New Year, a certain sense of trepidation is being felt, not just by leaders and policymakers, but the general public as well. If 2022 seemed like an excuse to shake away the blues of the pandemic years, we might be mistaken. And if you haven’t got the memo, social distancing and sanitising are also back in vogue. The hero of the year has been the humble mask, and if we have learnt anything, it is the need to keep our guards up, which might only get strengthened in the year to come.

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