The first lot of Covid-19 vaccines was delivered to states on Tuesday. This, indeed, is a big relief for the thousands of Covid warriors who have made immense sacrifices for a public health crisis of unprecedented nature. Meanwhile, Serum Institute of India’s announcement that its vaccine could be priced at about `1,000 a dose in the open market is being seen as subtle hints of it being made available to the public sooner than later.
Odisha too received 4.08 lakh doses meant for its frontline workers, who would get the first jab starting January 16. After battling the global crisis for 10 months, this certainly is good news. But it is no time to declare victory and celebrate yet. Rather, we must adopt caution. The worst may have passed, as the falling numbers indicate—or not, going by the US and Europe and even Japan or South East Asia, where the surge has begun again.
Only two vaccines have received emergency use authorisation in India and until production is scaled up to cover a larger populace, the Naveen Patnaik government must stick to its practices that have fetched good results in its battle against the virus. With just 200-odd daily cases reported now, it appears to be relaxing a bit. Any complacency on the part of the administration could result in an explosion.
As schools were reopened, Gajapati district reported a spate of infections among teachers. Clusters have been reported in Cuttack too. Going by an analysis, Puri district is reporting a reproduction number in an excess of two. Khurda, Sundargarh and Cuttack are not completely out of danger yet. Places of worship have been reopened as pressure mounted on the administration after nine months of closure and other states threw them open.
The Odisha government, which showed immense patience and maturity in dealing with unlocking, must keep a watch on the emerging situation in other places where a rush to reopen institutions backfired. It should also keep its Covid testing numbers going. Currently, the daily tests are around 25,000 against the 50,000-a-day level planned till the first half of the month. As Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has reiterated, there must not be any lowering of guard. The good fight must continue till the finish.