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Understand the second Covid wave better: Improve surveillance

With India’s Covid case count surging to 81,000 fresh cases on Thursday after recording 72,000 cases the day before, the suspicion among health experts that the virus has become more infectious and less lethal needs to be probed closely. The hypothesis has arisen because of the much lower fatality rate in Maharashtra during the second wave compared to the first wave even as cases have mushroomed uncontrollably.

Authorities must go in for more genome sequencing than in the past few months — in step with the rapid spurt in cases — to gain a better understanding of virus mutations and the peculiar spread across some states while others remain relatively unaffected. If the mutations are indeed making the virus less deadly, this is good news but there is no room for complacency given there is no knowing how this process will pan out.

Read also: Covid virus may be getting more infectious, less lethal

With just 4 crore elderly and those with comorbidities out of an estimated target group of 27 crore vaccinated so far, greater effort must be made in the current phase to take the vaccine to doorsteps. Such efforts have begun belatedly in places like Delhi with officials now undertaking door to door visits to register recipients. The high infectiousness also demands ramping up the messaging on masking. This, unfortunately, remains the greatest failing of governments.

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