India has followed a very closely knitted response towards COVID-19 pandemic with highest level of commitment from all stakeholders. Government, along with the private sector, has led various measures to address these challenges- from ramping up of testing facilities, hospital beds, strengthening health infrastructure to procuring oxygen and medical supplies.
The ongoing vaccination drive intends to achieve 100 per cent vaccination coverage, which is expected to leave less population susceptible to the virus. So far, in a country of 1.4 billion people, India has administered over 239 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. India is in dire need to ramp up its vaccine delivery rate up to five times to meet the target of vaccinating all adults by December 2021.
Witnessing a sharp spike in COVID cases and increased number of deaths during the second wave, many have predicted that the third COVID-19 wave may be even more lethal in the country.
This has led us to adopt agile analytical methods to navigate through the new normal. Going by the SUTRA (Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive) and Removed Approach) Model, the third wave will hit us sooner than expected if the vaccination drive is not ramped up and COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is not maintained.
The arrival of third wave has already started haunting the country and many states have begun planning and strengthening the health infrastructure.
Assuming children could be the worst affected this time, states are ramping up paediatric beds, paediatric intensive care units (PICU), Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU) and Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) while simultaneously focusing on Paediatric treatment protocols, setting up of Expert Panel and Taskforce to protect children.
As the third wave of COVID infection seems inevitable, the nation requires a pre-emptive approach to mitigate the risk posed by the pandemic and re-evaluate the existing healthcare systems to enhance our ability to fight back any such upcoming wave soon. This would need a robust and transparent sharing of data as well as extensive collaborative research from the public and private stakeholders.
The author is Chair-FICCI Health Services Committee and Chairman, Medica Group of Hospitals