By- Dr Naresh Purohit - 
Epidemiologist And
Advisor for National Communicable Disease Control Programme.

New Delhi : India is currently seeing a surge in Covid cases, to levels last seen during the Omicron wave in early 2022. Daily cases have crossed the 6,000-mark for the first time since September 16 last year.

A total of 14 deaths -- three in Maharashtra, two each in Karnataka and Rajasthan, and one each in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Punjab have been reported. One death was reconciled by Kerala, according to Union Health Ministry data.

As the virus continues to circulate and evolve, Indians  continue to see waves of infections. While these waves are not likely to be as large as before as we must note that  population- level immunity that has increased around the world from vaccination and prior infection, we should, by no means, downplay the threat from Covid-19 and become complacent. 

New waves of covid  infection occur as our immunity wanes. We can contain the impact of this with strong disease surveillance, high vaccine coverage, and making our health systems more resilient.

India needs to strengthen our capacity to track the virus and urgently address any gaps in the health systems. As we continue to do all this, we need to transition to long-term control of Covid-19 and other respiratory diseases.

Covid Vaccination:

Vaccination is an important tool in our fight against Covid to prevent severe disease and death. Even in communities that have experienced high Covid-19 infection rates, vaccination and boosters provide an additional layer of protection against the future trajectory of the disease.

India has already administered more than 2.2 billion doses to date, an impressive feat given the size of the country. While the vaccine rollout started at a slow pace, it picked up speed with the country crossing a billion doses in October 2021 and crossing the two billion mark in a record 18 months in July 2022.

In April 2022, India also rolled out booster doses in a phased manner for those who had completed their primary series, with a focus on the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions, and front-line workers which was gradually expanded.

While vaccine coverage and prior infections has provided population level immunity globally, the effectiveness of vaccines wanes over time and it is important that the primary series should be followed by additional booster doses, especially to those at the highest risk from severe disease and death.

Tackling present surge of Covid Cases:

We should isolate if we have a fever or symptoms and follow medical advice. Even individuals without infection must continue to follow protective measures to reduce transmission which include maintaining safe distance, practising good hand and respiratory hygiene, wearing well-fitting masks, and avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated places, where possible.

Booster doses provide additional protection against infection and severe disease beyond the primary series. Persons at high risk of developing severe Covid-19 disease should continue to be prioritised for the booster dose.

Children and adolescents are generally at low risk of infection and in case they do get infected; it is likely to be a mild disease in most instances. However, children and adolescents with co-morbidities or obesity are at a higher risk and must be vaccinated and should receive primary series vaccination and one booster dose.

Vaccination of healthy children and adolescents could be considered by individual countries based on disease burden, and other health or programmatic priorities and opportunity costs. Achieving high vaccination coverage with primary series and boosters in the at-risk population groups remains a priority.