A Case of Gradual Exit from the Pandemic | UPSC

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IASbhai Editorial Hunt

Every problem is a gift –- without problems we would not grow.– Tony Robbins

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

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

      HEADLINES:

The case for a gradual exit

      CENTRAL THEME:

Using mitigation measures will save a great number of lives

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Diseases

      MAINS QUESTION:

What should be the exit strategy of India from COVID-19. Discuss -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

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 ?

      INTRODUCTION: 

HISTORY OF LOCKDOWNS :

The impetus for the shutdown was driven in large part by a document from the Imperial College, London, which modelled options to handle the pandemic in high-income countries, specifically the U.K. and the U.S., which it called mitigation and suppression.

  • Mitigation refers to methods to reduce the numbers infected and protect the most vulnerable.

Measures advised are home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and physical distancing of those at most risk of severe disease.

  • 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.

      BODY: 

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

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 ?

First, no test is absolutely fool-proofand false positives and false negatives, though infrequent, can occur with the RT-PCR test too.

  • 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.

      IASbhai Windup: 

THE MOST EFFECTIVE RESPONSE

TWO OPTIONS :

An effective complete lockdown requires physical distancing at a level not possible in India without tremendous resources from the government.

  • 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.

Mitigation measures, taking the people into confidence, and facing the pandemic by deploying available resources in the best possible way is the most ethical and effective response.


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