Covid-19-free by September?

Flights Of Fantasy

[M Panging Pao]

Over the last one year plus, Covid-19 has spread to all corners of the world, infecting more than 17 crore persons, with 37 lakh plus fatalities. India has more than 2.9 crore persons infected, with over 3.4 lakh fatalities. Arunachal has 28,786 infections with 122 deaths. Presently, India is undergoing a devastating second wave, recording over 3 lakh infections and 3,500 deaths daily for many days. The coronavirus has mutated, has become more infectious and seems to be affecting younger persons more. However, there has been a drop in infections and death rates in the last few days.

Recently, 4-5 Covid-19 vaccines were launched, including two made-in-India vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin. It’s almost five months post launch of the vaccines and more than 163 crore persons have been vaccinated worldwide. India has achieved more than 22 crore vaccinations.

Analysis shows that the fatality rates due Covid-19 in India is about 1.19 percent, as compared to 1.8 percent in the USA, 2.85 percent in the UK, 2.98 percent in Italy, 5 percent in China, etc. Regarding vaccination also, India has the second highest number of vaccination at 23 crores. Nationwide about 36 lakh persons are being vaccinated on a daily basis. My calculations reveal that, at this daily vaccination rate, it would take about seven months to reach a figure of 70 percent population vaccinated with single dose. If the daily vaccination rate is increased to 40 lakhs per day, the 70 percent herd immunity figure may be reached in six months, by November 2021. However, these figures are for single dose vaccination only. For the desired double dose vaccination to achieve 70 percent herd immunity, the daily vaccination rate should reach 80 lakhs per day.

Arunachal has completed about 2.85 lakh single dose vaccinations and 78,575 double dose vaccinations. With the present day daily vaccination rate of 8,106, the target of 70 percent herd immunity for single dose would be achieved in about three months. However, to achieve the targeted double dose 70 percent herd immunity, the daily vaccination rate must be doubled to about 16,000 vaccinations per day. If 16,000 daily vaccinations are achieved, Arunachal may achieve 70 percent herd immunity by the first week of September 2021.

However, these figures for herd immunity would depend on 2-3 major factors. First is the steady availability of vaccines for all age groups. Second would be the challenge of motivating and mobilizing majority of the population (especially in remote areas) to take the vaccine. The third important factor is the proposed vaccination of children below 18 years of age, which is still in the trial stage and not yet cleared in India.

Presently, the only viable option to defeat Covid-19 is to vaccinate 70 percent of the population with two doses to achieve herd immunity. If the recommended figures discussed above are achieved, Arunachal should be free of Covid-19 by September and India by November. Till then, we all must follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and pray. Go, Corona, go! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)