IASbhai Editorial Hunt
Every problem is a gift –- without problems we would not grow.– Tony Robbins
EDITORIAL 70:“The case for a gradual exit“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
Edappadi K. Palaniswami
Dr. Jayaprakash Muliyil is an epidemiologist and former principal of Christian Medical College,
Vellore and Dr. George Thomas is an Orthopaedic Surgeon at St. Isabel’s Hospital, Chennai. Views are personal
The case for a gradual exit
Using mitigation measures will save a great number of lives
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Diseases
What should be the exit strategy of India from COVID-19. Discuss -(GS 3)
Author wants to show a way out of this lockdown . Alas !
- What is the history of lockdown ?
- How does herd immunity work in case of COVID-19 ?
HISTORY OF LOCKDOWNS :
- Mitigation refers to methods to reduce the numbers infected and protect the most vulnerable.
- The measures described under suppression are more or less what have come to be called lockdowns but do not include complete shutdown of work.
- The aim of suppression is to prevent the infection from spreading to others.
- The authors said, in order to be effective, lockdowns needed to be in place for 12 to 18 months which is the time estimated for an effective vaccine to be available.
WAITING FOR HERD IMMUNITY :
POVERTY AND DOWNTRODDEN :
- LABOUR FORCE : The International Labour Organization reports that nearly 50% of the world’s labour force is in immediate danger of losing their livelihood.
- WOMEN : The Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, says women are especially suffering the deadly impact of lockdowns.
- Proponents of the concept of herd immunity have been criticised for being irresponsible.
Herd immunity to a particular infection is a situation when so many in the population have immune antibodies that, although the pathogen is still in circulation, it can rarely find a susceptible host, and so illness from that pathogen is uncommon and cannot spread.
- MINIMUM REQUIREMENT : For SARS-CoV-2, estimates are that 60%-70% of the population needs to have antibodies for the herd effect to occur.
- HEARD IMMUNITY VS MORTALITY : Current estimate of 1% of the infected dying, waiting for herd immunity will still result in a lot of deaths.
THIS ARGUMENT IGNORES FOUR FACTORS:
- First, the number of deaths can be brought below 1% if we protect the most vulnerable, which is easier than locking down the entire population.
- Second, as statistics show, lockdowns also result in a very large number of deaths.
- Third, the pandemic will end much sooner than two years if herd immunity occurs.
- Fourth, we do not know the actual number infected up to now, as no country has reliable data.
GRADUAL EXIT ?
- Therefore, a gradual exit, using mitigation measures, will save the greatest number of lives.
- Critics also state that it is not certain if infection with this virus leads to immunity.
- This is based on the fact that a small number of people who tested positive were quarantined and allowed to leave quarantine after testing negative, only to test positive again later.
- There are other explanations for this phenomenon which are more robust than the ‘no immunity’ hypothesis.
FOOL PROOF TESTS ?
- Second, it is possible, though unlikely, that for a small section of the population, the antibody response may be transient.
- ANTIBODY PRINCIPLE : Nearly all human infections produce a natural antibody response, which protects from reinfection.
- REACTION TIME OF ANTI BODIES : Some of these responses wane with time and require another challenge to establish a level high enough to be protective.
- ANTI BODIES VS VACCINES : In general, the antibody response to infection is more robust than the response to a vaccine.
- WHEN WE PREFER VACCINE ? Vaccines are preferred because the much milder infections that they induce have a far lower mortality and morbidity than natural infection.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE RESPONSE
TWO OPTIONS :
- It has to be continued till a vaccine is available.
- If the lockdown is continued in the way it is now being done, it will decimate the poor.
- Using force to isolate the poor is not acceptable in a democracy.