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Need for a suitable pandemic model

by Jeet Akoijam
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The Manipur government yesterday extended the lockdown in the whole of the state till August 15 amid an increasing incidence of corona virus cases, and a rising controversy over whether community transmission is already happening in the state. During the extended lockdown, home delivery of essential items will be allowed while local retail shops can open from 8 AM-12 PM. Wholesale shops, meanwhile, can open on all days, except Sunday, from 10 AM-3 PM so that retailers can replenish their stocks. This latest decision is just an extension of the earlier restrictions imposed on the public based on the recommendations of experts and guidelines from the centre.
Meanwhile, the total number of deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide crossed the 700,000 mark on Wednesday with the US alone accounting for more than 160,000 deaths. However, in terms of fresh daily deaths, Brazil (1,322) nudged past the US (1,311) on Wednesday. In daily new cases, India took the top slot with 56,626 cases. However the US data is becoming increasingly dubious following the US administration’s insistence on taking over some aspects of data reporting from the US CDC, but the suspicion is also present in the Indian context as well, with the situation in Manipur getting increasingly alarming despite the continuing lockdowns and restrictions.
A big casualty of COVID-19 has been the education of children the world over. On Tuesday, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world was facing a “generational catastrophe” due to shutting down of schools. According to UN calculations, schools remained closed in around 160 countries in mid-July, impacting more than 1 billion students, with around 40 million missing out on pre-school. This is accentuating the digital divide where relatively affluent children can often use PCs, tablets or smartphones to reach online learning resources, but many in families with marginal incomes cannot.
What work is being done to find treatments?
More than 150 different drugs are being researched in different countries. Most are existing drugs that are being trialed against the virus. The UK is running the the world’s largest clinical trial, called Recovery, with more than 12,000 patients taking part – it is one of the few trials to have given a definitive view on which drugs do and do not work. The World Health Organization (WHO) is running the the Solidarity trial to assess promising treatments in countries around the world. Multiple pharmaceutical companies are running trials of their own drugs
There are three broad approaches being investigated: Antiviral drugs that directly affect the corona virus’s ability to thrive inside the body; Drugs that calm the immune system (severe Covid-19 is caused by patients’ immune systems overreacting and damaging the body); and Antibodies that can target the virus, taken from either survivors’ blood or made in a lab.
The corona virus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has placed epidemic modeling at the forefront of worldwide public policy making. Nonetheless, modeling and forecasting the spread of COVID-19 remains a challenge mostly due to the wide variations in lifestyles and social habits the world over. It has also been observed that there cannot be a common solution or model that can be successfully implemented over a large area or country. Given the lifestyles, social habits and customs practiced in different parts of the state, it would be prudent for the state government to set up a panel and draw up a model which would best suit the state, based on the recommendations of the panel, and ensure that the protocols and guidelines are enforced strictly in such a manner that the rate of transmission is brought under control or halted. It would be pertinent to highlight the fact that the poorest of the common public are the ones who are impacted the hardest, and any policy or guideline that does not provide means for them to meet their daily basic needs will ultimately result in a revolt of sorts and prove every effort a waste of time and energy while throwing the state into jeopardy.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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