Keeping a count was an instinctive move when the pandemic began. It served the limited purpose of having a sense of temporal distance in these extraordinary times. It is the 347th day since the first lockdown. A month more and it will be a year of the pandemic.
India has moved from initial fear to rapid action and now to vaccination. But the virus continues to burn through countries at different rates. The world is still oscillating between lockdowns and relaxing restrictions. Most countries have kept a sharp watch on movement of people within and outside its borders. It feels fortunate that the virus has affected India with a much lower intensity than what the epidemiological models predicted. Or, maybe, people in this part of the world have had greater immunity to viruses. Siddhartha Mukherjee explores this in a long essay here. On government response as a variable he writes –
Some epidemiologists argue that an accurate account of geographical disparities must give due weight to another extrinsic factor: certain governments have responded more effectively to the crisis than others.
About India’s protocols to respond to Covid-19 infections, I wrote a post early on. In hindsight, I would say that India’s containment plan has functioned efficiently. The plan was put in practice in April 2020. Almost a year later, the districts and cities of the country continue to sharpen it and fight the pandemic. Try asking any person who has tested positive through an RT-PCR test in Bengaluru, and he will list out the many agencies that reach out to the person on phone and monitor as well as support him through the critical days after testing positive. This is unprecedented in India.
Most Indian states have ran a continuously evolving restrictions list for movement of people in the state. As I write this, Maharashtra state has re-started lockdown in some cities and have mandated covid test for travelers coming in from high prevalence states. It is far from over.
Vaccinations is another evolving story. As soon as the private sector will be allowed to get involved in vaccinating people, we will see a spike in vaccination rates. It is led by the central government at the moment.
Through this period, I have kept up with writing regularly. Except for a few days, I have wrote in my ‘lockdown diary’ everyday. It has been a record of this unusual time we have lived. I am aware it continues. Maybe, the diary ends with vaccination – the day every one of us completes the two doses of vaccine and are safe from the virus. But that day is at least six months away.
I do not see our personal and professional lives coming out of the pandemic’s influence this year. 2021 will also be about the pandemic and its soaking effect on every aspect of our lives.