While the United States, India and Brazil, among others, continue to deal with the first wave of COVID-19 infections, others -- especially in Europe -- are bracing for the second wave.
Coronavirus cases crossed the 3 crore-mark earlier this week. The death toll from the pandemic also moved closer to the 9.5 lakh-mark globally.
While the current rise in cases being reported on a daily basis is largely driven by infections in the United States, India and Brazil, concerns are growing in other parts of the world.
Argentina, which had reported a significantly lower number of cases in the first six months of the pandemic, is now tenth most-affected country. The cases continue to rise rapidly there. Other countries such as Peru and the Philippines have also seemingly not turned the corner.
Yet, while many countries continue to deal with the first wave of infections, others -- especially in Europe -- are already facing a second wave.
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.
Belgium, Italy, France and the United Kingdom are witnessing a sudden rise in cases. These were among the worst-affected European countries during the March-May period.
The United Kingdom registered 4,322 cases on September 18, the same day France reported 13,215 new confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Here’s how countries are tackling the second wave:
France: The city of Nice on the French Riviera is banning gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces and has forced bars to close early after Marseille and Bordeaux introduced similar measures.
Paris, where the virus has also been circulating more quickly than elsewhere, has not banned gatherings of more than 10 people. But the police prefecture has said that it has strongly advised against private gatherings of more than that number.
Spain: The region including the Spanish capital Madrid is limiting movement between and within areas badly affected by the new surge. Access to parks and public areas are being restricted, and gatherings will be limited to six people. However, people would not be stopped from going to work even in the hardest-hit region in Spain.
United Kingdom: The government is considering a short period of tighter rules that could be announced next week. As part of this plan, pubs and restaurants could be shut for a few weeks. However, schools and most workplaces would remain open. The plan may also involve re-introducing restrictions in public spaces.
Czech Republic: The government has announced all bars, restaurants and nightclubs to close between midnight and 6.00 am. Assembly of more than 10 people in indoor spaces has also been banned. More restrictions are expected as the cases continue to surge.
(With inputs from Reuters and the Associated Press)Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic