Initiation of a lockdown in March 2020 provided time for various government/non-government agencies to boost their healthcare infrastructure. Subsequently, there has been a considerable amount of study on the virus and learnings from experiences within the country/other countries. This enabled strengthening the availability of hospital beds, oxygen supply, as well as ICUs.
Compared to the first phase of COVID-19 management by the central government, the second phase is managed at the state level. State government authorities in turn are delegating the responsibilities to districts for smoother administration.
On empowered groups managing COVID-19
The overall measures/COVID-19 management is currently channelized through six empowered groups (from 11 empowered groups formed in March 2020). One group is dealing with medical infrastructure and a COVID-19 management plan. Another group is working on ensuring availability of essential medical equipment and augmenting human resources. The third group is coordinating with the private sector, NGOs, and international organizations in response-related activities. The fourth group is dealing with economic and welfare measures. The fifth group is looking at information, communication, public awareness, public grievances, and data management. The last group is dealing with strategic issues related to COVID-19 management, and facilitating supply chain and logistics management.
On run up to the second wave
While the number of daily active cases reduced considerably till February 2021, it increased sharply over the past 2 months, led by super spreading events, reduced following of home isolation, and relaxed attitude toward wearing masks. Statistical models have been used to build the level of preparedness to combat
On COVID-19 preparedness in India
During the first wave of COVID-19 last year and subsequent second wave in other countries, the Government of India had taken efforts to prepare healthcare facilities for a daily case load of 1.5 lakh. Governments, both at the state and central level, are further strengthening the availability of beds/oxygen/medicine for treatment as well as medicines to tide over the second wave of COVID-19 in India.
It has been observed that 11-12 percent of active COVID-19 cases need hospitalization and 1 percent needs ICU beds. Considering that the antibodies last for 3-5 months, the scope for reinfection remains. This has been factored while determining the availability of healthcare infrastructure to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
On COVID-19 vaccination in India
Work on developing an indigenous COVID-19 vaccine started in Mar-Apr’20. The process of vaccine approval has been fast tracked to make it available to the Indian population.
Vaccine availability, channelized in sync between the central and state governments, was prioritized for those in the higher age group (over 60) first. This was done as a higher fatality rate was observed in the age group of over 60 years, even though the infection rate is maximum in those between 18 years and 45 years. With vaccination being opened up for those over 18 years, it needs to be seen if priority now remains for the age group over 60 years. By June 2021, vaccine production would touch ~115 million doses per month. Supply would increase with the ramp-up of capacity by already approved vaccine suppliers and new approvals.