Friday, 24 May, 2024

Vaccination In Priority

With a massive surge in the COVID-19 cases within a span of a couple of days, the Omicron variant of the virus has taken the nation by storm. On Saturday, the daily infection rate hit 31.8 per cent, which hints at the immediate risk of the third wave with the prevalence of both, Delta and Omicron strains. This has put unanticipated burden on the public health institutions. The Kathmandu Valley, where more than half of the total infections are being reported daily, has gone into a smart lockdown restricting public gatherings and operation of physical classes in schools, among others. As it has been over two years since the coronavirus emerged infecting over 300 million people and claiming over 5.54 million lives globally, containing the spread of the virus is not a new task for the government.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba held a meeting with health specialists of the Nepal Medical Council (NMC) to frame the strategies to fight the challenges posed to the nation's public health by the virus. In the meeting, the health specialists suggested that the government expand the scope of COVID-19 testing to ascertain the status of contagion at the community level, develop COVID-19 dedicated hospitals in each district, set up isolation, and holding centres, and manage sufficient human resources in all health institutions. They also stressed intensifying the vaccination drive and inoculating the entire population as soon as possible. In his response, Prime Minister Deuba said that the government had targeted to vaccinate all population by mid-April. He said that booster doses would be administered only after the entire population got fully vaccinated.

The first wave of the pandemic was extremely challenging as the government had to build an entire health system dedicated to fight COVID-19 across the nation, that too, when the vaccines against the virus were not developed. The second wave had fatal consequences as the number of fatalities increased and hospitals were overflowed with patients. As a silver lining, the situation compelled the government to enhance the healthcare infrastructures. Now that we have enough vaccines and strong health infrastructures, the only focus of the government should be on mobilising all of its resources in an effective way to curb the spread of the virus. It is a matter of relief that the infection of the omicron variant is not as severe as previous variants in the vaccinated population. Fatalities are also low.

However, considering that half of the population still needs to be inoculated with anti-coronavirus vaccines, the threat still looms over us. Thus, everyone's access to vaccines should be ensured by all means as soon as possible. Nonetheless, the government's efforts alone are not enough to prevent and control the spread. The public is as much responsible as the government to check the rampantly spreading virus. It is the duty of all people to duly abide by the public health protocols and restrictions implemented by the government. The measures taken by the government will be of no use if we continue defying the health protocols. Thus, we all must realise our responsibilities and cooperate with the government in fighting the pandemic, which stands as the biggest challenge of the hour.