Kolkata, India: As India witnessed a massive drop in the number of daily covid cases and death rates, authorities now fear compliance over the second dose vaccines, as life returns to normal in several regions of India.
Maskless people, seemingly complacent of the potential risk from COVID-19 can be seen in almost every region across the nation. Memories of a gruesome second wave, where parking lots became graveyards are still fresh.
“Nobody is wearing a mask, so I too am not wearing one,” a layman in the largely normal streets of Kolkata, approached for comment for not wearing a mask in public, told We The World Magazine.
“It causes discomfort, (the mask) makes my face precipitate to uncomfortable degrees, hence I don’t wear one,” he said. “Moreover, the virus is also gone.”
Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands like the person may have the same opinion — the virus is gone, and others not wearing a mask is an apparent encouragement to follow suit.
But experts fear a third wave, fuelled by public complaincy could spell another disaster — surcharged by a more virulent Delta variant — after the second wave caused over 200 million infections in a few months.
The current projections by several Indian scholars and top medical authorities indicate that a third wave will hit India in September-October 2021, based on various mathematical models.
Mumbai, India’s financial capital, and one of the worst-hit cities are mulling lockdown at a distance of a few signals to stall a potential third wave.
More than 744 million vaccine doses have been provided in India, with 60 percent of the country’s 944 million adults receiving the first shot and 19 percent receiving both vaccinations.
However, “there’s a concern among the highest quarters of an impending vaccine hesitancy, in view of most taking a single dose already, and disease incidence at its lowest,” said one of the two sources who spoke to Reuters news agency, both of whom declined to be identified.
Large numbers of people skipping their second dose would be especially troublesome in locations where there are few previously infected persons, resulting in more people with fewer antibodies, making such groups more vulnerable, the first expert said.
Briefing on the case, the two health experts said India is concerned about growing complacency over second dose vaccine as infection rates and mortality drop will lead to people skipping their second vaccine shot, leaving communities vulnerable to the coronavirus, Reuters reported.
According to the second expert, the health ministry has instructed states to encourage patients to receive their second doses as soon as possible, such as on the 12th week after their first dose, rather than waiting until the last possible day, in order to avoid missing the second shot.
A request for comment from the health ministry was not immediately returned.
Our World in Data — a metric website states India has the world’s most partially vaccinated population, owing to the government’s requirement of a 12- to a 16-week interval between doses.
Data collected between April and August – when the Delta variety was spreading fast – revealed that one treatment alone was 96.6 percent effective in preventing mortality, while two doses provided 97.5 percent protection, according to the authorities.
However, one expert believes that message may accidentally discourage people from receiving their second injection, especially since time spent at the immunization center means a lower pay package for many low-wage workers.
After seeing the world’s largest spike in coronavirus cases and deaths in April and May, India’s daily infections have stabilized at roughly 40,000, with mortality significantly declining.
In India, 33.26 million infections have been documented, with 442,874 deaths. In July, the authorities projected that the virus had infected more than two-thirds of India’s 1.35 billion people.