The novel coronavirus Covid-19 had been first detected in the Wuhan city of China towards the end of 2019 and by the beginning of 2020 had assumed pandemic proportions, ravaging nations across the world and killing millions. It is the spring season of 2021 in Asia now, and yet the world has received no respite from this lethal disease. Till the time of writing the Worldometer, which has been tracking the number of cases, puts the global number of afflictions at a mind-boggling 136,033,303 and deaths at 2,939,472. However, such figures cannot be deemed to be totally accurate and must be seen as mere pointers to the impact the virus is making in various nations, since in many places the actuality differs from those recorded. For instance, in a vastly populated country like India, which at the moment has 1,33,58,805 afflictions and a death toll of 1,69,275, the numbers had been gleaned from records of medical institutions. But it is an open secret that there have been a vast number of unrecorded asymptomatic cases and even of deaths not attributed to Covid-19 in this country, thus the given figures are lower than the actual. With ten States, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan showing a steep rise in the daily Covid-19 cases, India is witnessing a second wave.
The sole silver lining visible on humanity’s horizon is the development in record time of a number of Covid-19 vaccines. The postulate is that if a sufficient percentage of the global population is rendered immune against the virus the pandemic would die out. Unfortunately, vaccine nationalism appears to be threatening this objective since the richer countries have bought out the bigger chunk of vaccines so far manufactured and seem reluctant to share these with poorer nations. Yet, ironically, John Donne’s famous line ‘No man is an island entire of itself,’ is particularly applicable to the current global scenario, for scientists vouchsafe that any nation which attains herd immunity through vaccination will remain vulnerable to renewed infection unless the entire planet attains it! As for India, 10,15,95,147 people have been administered the Covid-19 vaccine till date, but the momentum generated is in danger of tapering off because of reports of shortage of vaccines. Although Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has asserted that India has enough doses and urged the State governments to put an end to ‘fear-mongering’, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a four-day-long ‘Tika Utsav’ from April 11, there never is smoke without a fire and the media might not be erroneous in pointing to a possibility of vaccine shortage. The Centre and the States must also resume their proactive stance in enforcing the Covid-19 protocol amongst the public.