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 on-going 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 213 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Considering the current vaccine delivery rate, which dropped from 3.5 million a day in March to an average of 1.6 million daily doses this week, it will take until February 2022 for the country to vaccinate 300 million people, which is approximately only 20 per cent of the population.
Witnessing a sharp spike in cases and an increase in 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 in coming 6-8 months if the vaccination drive is not ramped up and COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is not maintained.
As the spectre of a potential third wave has been haunting the country and many states have begun planning and strengthening the health infrastructure. The focus is on children, with apprehension that they could be the worst affected. States are ramping up paediatric beds, paediatric intensive care units (PICU), Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU) while simultaneously focusing on Paediatric treatment protocols, setting up of Expert Panel and Task force to protect children.
As the third wave of COVID infection seems inevitable, the Nation needs to be pre-emptive in its 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. The author is Chair-FICCI Health Services Committee and Chairman, Medica Group of Hospitals