India’s vaccines, once derided and which went on to save lives, are now readily available, but people are reluctant to take booster doses.
China’s healthcare system is buckling under the strain of its latest and outlandish decision of taking down all Covid controls so rapidly that the country is endangering the world all over again. From late 2019 in Wuhan where the pathogen may have jumped species to spread panic over the coronavirus to the close of 2022, China took several decisions that were self-centred.
it is not as if mass testing, strict lockdowns and border closures were not what all countries first tried in their fight to suppress the virus. Allowing science to learn fast from emerging scenarios, most parts of the world relied on a measure of community spread when vaccines entered the battle to beat the virus after having sacrificed some of their frontline workers, the old and the vulnerable.
Given the authoritarian controls of China, decision making was skewed to the extent of chasing domestic vaccines, which proved to be not so effective in older people, and total lockdowns that stifled the population and shut the economy.
When the rest of the vaccinated world was opening after deciding to live with the virus while opening the economy, China remained shut. It, however, failed to bolster its health system by stockpiling medicines, oxygen, and critical care infra.
Just a few days of nationwide protests over lockdowns seemed to shake President Xi Jinping’s governance into jumping to the other extreme and now even travel restrictions are ending. The world must beware as an open China may lead to the virus running free again.
With about half a dozen visitors to China from India testing positive, the fears of another wave are rising. India is preparing with mock drills to check the medical system response and mask and social distancing mandates may be resorted to again.
With the knowledge acquired so far, India is better equipped to handle the challenge though the risk of deadlier mutations as the virus rips through millions of Chinese day after day is not to be discounted.
India’s vaccines, once derided and which went on to save lives, are now readily available, but people are reluctant to take their booster dose, which is one of the major defences.
We now know that the virus is here to stay and are aware of how China has behaved in cavalier fashion for three years now. Our response can only lie in cranking up the Covid care and prevention infrastructure and teaching people the protocols of protecting themselves.