Third Wave of Covid-19 – Inevitable or not?

India has just battled out its worst pandemic situation ever. The first two waves did significant damage all over the world, including India. We have lost so many fellow Indians. Our economy is getting weaker and weaker. Unemployment is on the rise. However, the main question is, even after two massive outbreaks of Covid-19 are we aware of the control measures of this virus yet.

After a disastrous second wave, nobody wants another wave of Covid-19 anytime in the country. However, health officials, including the Prime Minister have warned against a possible third wave in the near future. The positive news was that vaccination is going on in full swing, and it will not be long before all citizens of India are vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. However, the third wave is predicted to reach India well before that. Scientists say that even 70% vaccination can reduce the severity of a third wave to a great extent.

Increasing the duration of the gap between two doses of Covishield is also another factor of slow vaccination rates in India. Covishield was given at an interval of 12 to 16 weeks between two doses as against the previous 8-week gap. Covishield production and distribution have also slowed down considerably as the second wave is retreating from the country. A positive note here is that some single-dose vaccines like Johnson and Johnson, or Sputnik Light are found to be quite effective against Covid-19. Launching single-dose vaccines will increase the vaccination rate to a great extent.

The main question is, when will the third wave come. Scientists differ in their opinions, but most of them suggest that some time is required after the waning of the second wave after which they will get a clear idea. Some scientists say that the third wave has already arrived in the country in July. A few others think the second wave is yet to abate fully from the country and the third wave may arrive 6-8 weeks after the second wave abates. Many predictions point out that if the Government does not tighten its grip on people movement and tourism, as it was before the second wave, the third wave is likely to arrive sooner than expected, and may even take a violent turn. A number of researchers also say that the third wave may arrive by mid-August. However, most studies agree that the severity of the third wave is at our hands, how well we can shield ourselves from infected persons.

Despite all precautions, a section of scientists says that a third wave is inevitable and it may hit India sooner than expected. As nationwide lockdown eases a bit in July, a huge crowd has flocked to the hill stations and beaches. Such a massive crowd of non-local people in tourist places may turn into a Kumbha Mela like super-spreader. Tourist destinations like Lakshadweep and Kerala are seeing an increasing trend in the Covid-19 case count. Most tourist destinations have asked for a negative Covid-19 report or vaccination. Maintaining Covid-19 protocols as well as social distancing is the key to stay safe from getting infected by the deadly virus.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Cycling Makes Comeback in India

Cycling was the most common method of personal vehicle transportation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, most developed countries in the world are promoting cycle transport to stem the pollution from motor vehicles. Bicycles have the least carbon footprint among all means of transportation as they operate using the energy of the rider. However, they are classified as slow-moving vehicles and are banned from entering congested streets in many cities across India. This limited the growth of this eco-friendly mode of transportation in the early 21st century.

In 2020, world transportation was shattered by Covid-19. Short journeys, for which people used to take auto or bus rides, are replaced by cycles. The unavailability of private cars, buses, and autos means the roads are nearly empty most of the time. So cycling on empty roads did not pose any hindrance to the traffic. In such a scenario, the Government allowed several otherwise-congested roads for cycling purposes. Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, all have seen a spurt in the number of cycles and sales of cycles. A cycle is not only very cheap, but an effective mode of transportation for short distance journeys, and can be parked almost anywhere.

However, various independent surveys show that cycling is more a fitness sport than a transport. In lockdown situations, when fitness lovers are unable to move out to gyms or yoga, cycling comes to their rescue. Cycling not only keeps our body fit but also makes us go out in the sun. Various studies show that Vitamin D is linked with our immunity against Covid-19 and the major source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Thus there is a sudden growth in the number of cycle riders in the afternoon.

Seeing a positive response from the public, the Government is now thinking of making the congested cities suitable for large-scale cycle transportation. Cycle helps in reducing pollution, and also saves a lot of fuel. The commuters have also seen the benefits of cycling, both in terms of health and in terms of money-saving. There has been a 300-600 per cent increase in cycle sales across megacities of India. The best-sellers are expensive bicycles, specially meant for racing purposes. The rich section of the society, which previously did not feel the need to cycle, is now considering cycling as a means of staying fit. The Government now requires cycling as a safe form of transport. The Government should promote the development of bicycle tracks across cities so that riders can move from one part of the city to another without disturbing the traffic. The question is, after the pandemic, will the riders feel safe to ride across congested roads. The Government should create an atmosphere of prioritising cycling as a safe and effective transportation option, which not only the poor but also the rich can utilize.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Fake Vaccination Drives

Vaccination drives are going on all over the country to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Most cities and villages in India have started vaccination drives by both the public and private sectors. Government vaccination camps are more in number and are of particular interest to those who do not want or can not afford to pay a hefty price as charged in private companies. However, some Government officials have also resorted to providing fake vaccination for a greater income. Let us discuss in this article how and where this has happened.

Kolkata and Mumbai are two big cities where there are proven records of fake vaccination drives. Kolkata and Mumbai are the most densely populated cities in India, and also lie in the epicentre of Covid-19 spread in India. So fake vaccination drives in these cities are unlikely to prevent a third Covid-19 wave which may prove even more disastrous for the country than the previous waves.

In Mumbai, more than 2000 people have been given fake vaccines by several private players in different areas of the city. Till now 13 arrests have been made by the Mumbai police in connection with fake camps. Mahendra Pratap Singh and Manish Tripathi are said to be the main culprit in this scam. All fake vaccines are supplied from Shivam Hospital in Kandivali West, whose owners, Shivraj Pataria and Nita Pataria, have been arrested. Shivam Hospital reportedly received some Covishield doses from the BMC and some empty vials all of which were handed to the vaccine camp organizers, who have made fake vaccines out of it.

In Kolkata, an even greater scam was unearthed connected to one individual, Debanjan Das, and some TMC officials. Debanjan Das went beyond belief to raise his treasury with a fake IAS claim, fake joint commissioner of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) identity, issuing fake tenders and running a fake Kolkata Urban Planning office. He earned crores of rupees in the name of KMC and from fake vaccines. The scam came to light when ruling TMC MP from the same area, Mimi Chakraborty, was invited by Deb to take vaccine shots. Mimi was alerted when she didn’t receive any SMS from Aragya Setu after getting vaccinated, and she launched a probe in this matter. Deb was found to supply Amikacin, a simple antibiotic for several bacterial infections in the vaccine shots. Deb managed to fake the vaccine bottles and their stickers, and also tricked several firms by forging signatures of many senior officials and ministers.

It is shocking, to say the least, how some scammers are playing with the lives of so many people. Fake vaccine recipients, if not identified at the earliest, may not be saved in case a third wave of Covid-19 arrives. While vaccination can provide immunity to most of the public, it may have a severe effect on people not vaccinated. As restrictions get eased, Covid-19 is most likely to turn up, affecting those not vaccinated. Fake vaccines will prove disastrous for such persons. It is highly recommended follow-up for a possible fake vaccination drive in your area, check whether you receive a message from the Government regarding vaccination, check your Aragya Setu app about current status and vaccination, do cross-check and verify the authorization of the centre or camp, and do not believe in rumours. Most camps and centres are providing real authorised vaccines, hence don’t be afraid to get vaccinated. Vaccination can save your life from future Covid-19 infection, hence do take the vaccine at the earliest from your nearest authorized vaccination centre.

Written by – Himadri Paul