Pune: The recent surge in coronavirus cases in India had prompted the Head of the World Health Organization (WHO) to call it “beyond heartbreaking”.
And demand for a countrywide lockdown has been growing louder with fresh cases piling every day. On Saturday, India reported more than 400,000 cases of the coronavirus disease, the highest-ever single-day count recorded since the pandemic began.
With 401,993 fresh cases, India’s Covid-19 tally crossed the 19 million mark. To break the chain of transmission, several states like Maharashtra, Delhi and Chhattisgarh have imposed lockdown.
However, some scientists believe that instead lockdown, the governments should take steps to make such contacts safe.
Noted virologist and veteran vaccine researcher Dr Thekkekara Jacob John has objected to the lockdown and said, “What did you want when HIV came? ‘no sex’ or ‘safe sex’ i.e. sex with a condom? People chose sex with condoms after a lot of persuasion. So, wearing a mask is a remedy, not the lockdown.”
He used the HIV analogy to get his point across.
Dr John had also opposed the first countrywide lockdown imposed in March last year. He had said that the absence of social contact is detrimental, “We cannot live without social interaction. We are social animals. So why adopt a measure which makes people helpless to break or disobey?”
Another renowned virologist and Professor Vasanthapuram Ravi, who is also on the advisory board of the Sputnik V vaccine, also believes that complete lockdown is not a solution. He says, “Force can’t change people’s behaviour”.
During the late 80s and 90s when the HIV virus had spread, Dr Ravi who was also worked extensively during HIV days, added that then, people were not ready to wear condoms like today they are not ready to wear masks. So, the only way was to educate people about safe sex rather than telling them to have no sex.
Another virus scientist Professor Ramaswamy Pitchappan has also advised that instead of imposing a lockdown, governments should educate people to adopt Covid appropriate behavior. He said, “Lockdown would be an economic disaster. It may not serve the purpose. Everything should be allowed to function with reasonable restrictions.”
Some health experts too believe that the first countrywide lockdown, which was imposed on March 24, was not the solution to fight against Covid-19, instead it caused a huge damage on the economic front.
“We didn’t achieve anything in our fight against the disease during the countrywide lockdown,” said a senior government health official.
In an attempt to contain a second wave of the pandemic, the country has now started vaccinating people. India is administering 26 lakh doses daily on an average. Which is second to the USA, where the authority administering more than 30 lakh doses on an average per day.
The Central government also announced a vaccination drive for all citizens above the age of 18 years from May 1.