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COVID-19: Ray of hope for India--it's getting better in the US!

Rai Vinaykumar     May 4, 2021

Amidst all the doom and gloom due to the ongoing second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, there is a tiny ray of hope for India -- going ahead, it will get better. It is surely getting better in the US which has cumulatively reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths because of the infection so far.

As the number of vaccinated people is increasing, new COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations have started going down in the country. As per John Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker, US has cumulatively reported over 3.24 crore cases and over 5.77 lakh deaths because of the infection.

However, new COVID-19 cases in US fell for the third week in a row, dropping by 15 per cent during the week ended May 2 to 3,47,000, which is the lowest weekly total since October. Even states like Michigan, Colorado and Minnesota, which had been reporting highest new cases per capita population because of new contagious variants, saw a drop in cases during the week.

Meanwhile, deaths in the country fell 3 per cent to 4,819 during the last week, the lowest number since July. The average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals fell 8 per cent, the first weekly decrease after rising or holding steady for four weeks.

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The fall in deaths, cases and hospitalisations can be attributed to the rise in vaccination. As of May 2, one-third of the country's population was fully vaccinated, while 44 per cent had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Menwhile, the situation is getting much better in New York City, which had become the epicentre of the pandemic in US. With more than 50 per cent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose, museums in the city are back to 50 per cent of their capacity, while theaters are at 33 per cent capacity, with plans to return to full occupancy in two weeks.

However, not all is well. As new cases decrease, vaccination has also slowed down in the country. Vaccination fell for a second week in a row during the week ended May 2, dropping 12 per cent after falling 14 per cent in the previous week. Besides there is the danger of new variants spreading faster. However, the vaccination numbers do tell a story of hope for India, where the second wave is wreaking havoc.

After recording the highest-ever spike with over 4 lakh cases on May 1, India reported 3,57,229 new COVID-19 cases and 3,449 deaths in the preceding 24 hours as of Tuesday morning. India had administered 15.89 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Tuesday morning. Out of this, 2.97 crore people have been fully vaccinated with both doses, while 12.92 crore people have got one dose of the vaccine.

While India will have to handle the scarcity of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines because of the second wave, the rising vaccination numbers will help in fighting the new waves.

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From May 1, the government has opened vaccination for everyone above the age of 18 years in the country, which should help in increasing vaccination uptake. While Serum Institute of India's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin are currently being used in the vaccination programme, the government has also granted emergency use approval to Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V.

India received the first consignment of 1.5 lakh Sputnik vaccines from Russia last week. Besides, the Russian Direct Investment Fund has also inked deals with several Indian pharma companies for local production of the vaccine, which should further improve the availability of vaccine in coming months. The Centre has also fast-tracked regulatory approvals for foreign made COVID-19 vaccines which have been approved by drug regulators in US, UK, European Union and Japan.

The experience of US shows that vaccination is the only way out of this pandemic and India should continue to focus on increasing the pace of vaccination. As the number of vaccinated people increase, so will India's capacity to fight this pandemic.

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