Whatever they say, the battle against the pandemic is far from over. Although, the daily number of positive figures and positivity rate as against the number of tests performed had come down considerably in recent days it is still more like a see-saw. Whenever the daily positive numbers and positivity rate comes down we breathe a sigh of relief, but somehow it is always short-lived. Monday saw 282 positive figures with no deaths. Although the number of positive figures keep fluctuating, it is indeed surprising that the number of deaths should come to nil. The best option is to go on with the aggressive drive of vaccination. The current strategy of ‘trace, test and treat’ needs to re-orient with the changing scenario. The other day, Chief Minister N Biren Singh announced that Jiribam being the first district to fully vaccinate its eligible population would be awarded Rs 20 lakhs as announced earlier. Full vaccination actually means both doses of the vaccine, but what is more important is the first vaccination which clears the way for the second dose, meaning the vaccine hesitancy among the general population has been overcome.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had dismissed the Manipur government’s special leave petition that challenged the order issued by the Manipur High Court on July 16, 2020. A bench comprising justice DY Chandrachand, justice Vikram Nath and justice Hima Kohli verbally told the counsel for the state of Manipur that the direction given by the High Court was appropriate in view of the “dismal state of quarantine centres in the state of Manipur.” It was pointed out that there are no proper facilities in the quarantine centres which were clearly indicated in the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) report submitted to the court, pursuant to the direction of the High Court, and therefore, the special leave petition was dismissed. We still wonder what led the state government to go for a special leave petition against the order, which was in fact complementary to the efforts of the state government in battling the pandemic. The High Court had only advised the state government to form expert committees and chalk out strategies to combat the pandemic and anything which could not be implemented on the ground should have been discussed with the High Court. Yet. It chose to go for a special leave petition to the Supreme Court, which was rejected.
Sometime ago, we did some loud thinking on the current state of vaccine hesitancy among the general populace and what we are doing about it. By ‘we’ we mean the state, the CSOs and the media in general. Have we exhausted all our imagination and efforts in trying to convince the public to come out willingly or voluntarily to take the Covid-19 vaccine? Yes, we agree rumours are going around and some people are using social media to post their hesitancy and reluctance which might be due to either sheer ignorance or the deaths after vaccination and the adverse effects. The state has now given the responsibility of ensuring vaccination of all eligible persons to the MLAs in their respective constituencies. The chief minister himself is doing the rounds in his constituency to encourage people to come out and get themselves vaccinated. Likewise, most of the MLAs and ministers are in the field now. So, a full-scale vaccination effort is more prudent if we have to fight back the pandemic, as well as preparing for the possible third wave. The Centre has taken care of procuring the vaccines and people are getting it free with the state rolling out its full machinery and health infrastructure to avail vaccine services in every constituency. This opportunity should not be missed. One more important thing, saying the vaccine is safe in spite of a few adverse effects is just not enough to convince the superstitious folk. Some sort of guarantee should anything befall one after taking the vaccine is perhaps needed at this juncture. Not everyone dies after taking the shot, but even one or two deaths is enough to scare away the rest. But, these deaths had to be scientifically explained for the benefit of the doubters.