By DR SUDARSHAN BALLAL

The brutal once-in-a-lifetime devastating covid pandemic brought us down on our knees and the world literally came to a standstill.

The healthcare systems and economy of the world was turned topsy-turvy and most of us were literally left gasping for breath as we saw the death and destruction around us.

Robust public health measures of masking, social distancing and hand sanitisation were the keys in preventing the spread of disease along with the aggressive vaccination drive.

Now that we have come out of the relatively mild but extremely infectious third wave due to Omicron variant people have started breathing easy and public memory being short, some have even forgotten the devastation caused by this virus.

Many states have removed the covid restrictions including the mandatory masking.

The debate on easing restrictions and not mandating masks can go on till the cows come home and there may not be an absolutely right or wrong answer for this million dollar question .

Though it’s amply clear to us that covid has not left us and will continue to be with us for years to come it may not have the same devastating effect as before for the following reasons:

1)Almost every citizen of our country has been infected in one of the three waves 2) Most of us have received (180 crore vaccinations for the adults so far and counting) the complete doses of the vaccination along with the third dose for the high-risk groups 3) Children above the age of 12 are being vaccinated aggressively 4) Many of our citizens would have had the hybrid immunity effects of both infection and vaccination giving them a high level of protection against serious disease 5) We have also noticed that even though the Omicron variant of concern had a large number of mutations compared to the original virus and could have been a serious illness, it was found to be very infectious but not very virulent and was short lived 6) Hopefully the future mutations would have somewhat of a similar response.

For these reasons I believe it is reasonable to remove some of the stringent restrictions imposed during the covid times times which will also help economic recovery after a severe lull for two years.

However, I strongly believe that masking and social distancing should stay with us for some more time to come.

In addition to preventing the spread of covid infections that still exists in the society it is a great barrier for prevention of spread of other respiratory viral illnesses and also one of the banes of our society tuberculosis.

Hence I strongly support the use of masks in public places and also maintain social distancing along with hand washing.

These measures could certainly be encouraged by public awareness and educational programmes and may not necessarily have to be mandated or imposed with heavy fines.

Constant vigilance and surveillance is needed to make sure there is no surge in the cases either nationally or locally and in case that happens we may have to go back to mandating masking, distancing and hand washing.

All in all, public health measures including masking, distancing and washing along with surveillance and vigilance is the key in preventing covid from raising its ugly head again.

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All adults eligible for booster dose from April 10


The government said on Friday booster doses of covid-19 vaccines will be made available to all Indians above 18 years of age, if they have completed 9 months after their second vaccination.

The administration of the so-called precautionary dose through private vaccination centres will start from April 10, the government said in a statement.

So far, only frontline workers and those above 60 years were eligible for booster shots. - Reuters

The writer is Chairman - MHEPL, Manipal Hospital

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