India has asked the states of Kerala and Maharashtra to consider night curfews in areas with high COVID-19 case numbers as the country reported more than 40,000 new infections for two days in a row on Friday.
Cases fell to a five-month-low of 25,166 in the middle of the month but have risen sharply in the last three days, mainly in Kerala that recently celebrated a big festival during which families typically come together.
India reported 44,658 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, taking the total to 32.6 million, the most in the world after the United States. Deaths rose by 496 to 436,861.
Kerala, on India’s southern tip, has accounted for nearly 60 percent of the new cases in the past week and more than half of the total active cases, followed by 16 percent in the western state of Maharashtra.
"More efforts would be required to arrest the increase in infections,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on Thursday evening after its secretary held a meeting with the two states.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"This would require adequate intervention in geographical areas having higher infection, through measures such as contact tracing, vaccination drives and COVID-appropriate behaviour.”
The ministry also said that the states had been asked to ”explore the possibility of placing night curfew in areas of high positivity” and assured additional supplies of vaccines.
India has so far administered more than 611 million vaccine doses, giving at least one dose to more than half of its 944 million adults and the required two doses to about 15 percent.