The Indian Medical Association has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recommending that vaccination be allowed for all people above the age of 18 years. This comes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, where India has become the second country in the world, after the United States, to record more than 1 lakh Covid-19 in a single day at any time during the pandemic. According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday, the country added 1,03,796 Covid-19 cases recorded in 24 hours, which unfortunately has been the highest number of cases recorded in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
The IMA has attributed the surge to complacent behaviour, mass gatherings without masks and non-compliance of Covid-19 appropriate behaviour among the general public, and deterrent mutations of the virus. Dr JA Jayalal and Dr Jayesh M Lele, who are the National President and Honorary Secretary of the IMA has insisted that the Government implement ‘Zero tolerance against the non-compliance of Covid appropriate behaviours, augmentation of infrastructure beds and oxygen availability, moral support and enthusiastic engagements of frontline health workers ensuring adequate health care protective gears support and strict adherence to the evidence-based treatment protocols are the key factors needed at this moment’.
The Letter also stated that the Government ramp up the vaccination drive and include those between above 18 years into the vaccination programme. ‘At present, we are vaccinating the population above 45 years. In view of the rapid spread of the second wave of the disease, we suggest that our vaccination strategy be geared up with immediate effect and on war footing’, ‘we request following suggestions in the COVID-19 vaccination drive — all citizens above 18 years of age shall be permitted to receive COVID vaccination and walk-in COVID vaccination should be available for all, free of cost at their nearest possible place’, said the IMA said in its letter to the Prime Minister.
Opening vaccinations to individuals under 45 years has also been suggested by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) – FICCI President Uday Shankar in a letter to the Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan had suggested opening up vaccinations to those between 18 and 45. He stated ‘Given that there is no shortage of vaccines and there is a huge scope of augmenting inoculation capacity through greater involvement of private sector, we urge you to open up vaccination for this age group to help subside the spread of infection as well as severity of cases in the country’.
In its 6-pointed letter to the Prime Minister, the IMA has called for District level vaccine task force teams should be constituted with public and private participation to enforce mass vaccination, to monitor and mitigate adverse drug events, and to build confidence. Making vaccination certificate mandatory for entering public places and to receive products under the public distribution system etc.
The IMA stated that the pandemic’s second wave surge is reaching record heights and added that ‘vaccination against COVID-19 stands as a single evidence-based resource for us to restrict cases by raising the personal immune response and pave the way for herd immunity to decrease the severity of the disease’. The IMA also said that in view of rising cases and as a measure to break the transmission chain, “limited period continuous lockdowns” should be implemented, ‘especially for all non-essential areas like cinemas, cultural and religious events, sports, etc.’
The Director of AIIMS Dr Randeep Guleria has cautioned the authorities that the second wave may peak this month and India needed a mini lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly disease. Dr Randeep, who has been interviewed by NDTV has expressed dismay in a lax approach by people on maintaining Covid-related precautions, and mutant strains of the virus have been behind the second wave of infections.
In an interview to the news channel, Guleria said that the second wave could be as severe as the previous one if protocols were not followed. He warned that the cases could spread even more rapidly if steps like wearing masks and contact-tracing were not followed.
He told the news channel that ‘People feel that the pandemic is over because vaccines are here, so they fail to wear masks. We see large crowds gathering again without masks. Many of these crowded events have become super spreading events,’ he added.
The Union Government has reported that Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat account for nearly 80% of new Covid-19 cases in the Country, forcing some states to impose fresh restrictions.