Lockdown has ended. At least it looks like. But surely COVID 19 hasn’t. We have been unlocked into an awkward normalcy amidst soaring infections. Improved recoveries, and lower fatality are great help, but not the answer. Vaccine and drugs are. Starting from Edward Jenner’s vaccine against the super contagious small pox in 1796 to more recent ones against Measles, Mumps, Rubella, (MMR) and the dangerous Polio, vaccines have saved millions of lives, especially of children.
The Vaccine again Corona is being pursued with understandable desperation. In India alone, 30 groups are at work. The great hope is that it should come within a year, though normal vaccine development can take more than 10 years. When it does, access to vaccine will be an issue for all those who generally do not access anything much. Policy makers, disease experts, micro-biologists and bio-tech firms are one step forward and two steps backward regarding the time frame, efficiency and parameters of the vaccine. American immunologist Anthony Fauci has been ambivalent even about the duration of immunity from any would-be Vaccine. Question is what till a vaccine comes, as numbers furiously stride forward, and a lockdown proves to be of diminishing utility. Helplessness is certainly not the answer for a humanity that has survived being the fittest.
In absence of a vaccine, the available ways of prevention of infection are quite simple and made simpler by repetition – wash hand with soap, cover the face, cover sneeze and cough, dispose of used tissues, don’t spit in open, avoid contact with sick people and contaminated objects – largely a body of hygienic behaviour. Add to this, the regular usage and cleanliness of toilets that all citizens now have access to, and storage and use of clean drinking water, we have a protection ring against COVID 2019 – a loosely knit vaccine.
It’s time to recall certain recent weaponry that India has got in its arsenal. 2014-2019 saw a massive upsurge of vision and implementation of what is known as WASH or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, under the home-grown name of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that gave a death blow to the blot of Open Defecation in the country. By eliciting willing adherence to a new swachhata code from the average Indian, the programme went on to become the largest behaviour change movement of the world. Sanitation became everyone’s business. Observance of Swachhata Pakhwada all across, Swachhata Action Plan by all Union Ministries, Swachh towns, Swachh Villages, Swachh Vidyalayas, Swachh Iconic Places, Swachh Rail, Swachh Stations, Swachh Mandi– were part of a mainstreaming exercise that never happened before. Swachh Survekshan got local areas to compete and gain recognition for fortifying themselves against dirt and filth. Swachh Bharat Mission in its current second phase, seeks to sustain the gains of the sanitation revolution and ensure that people practice safe…
Read more:: The Swachh Vaccine, here and now