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Decline in cases will be slower this time: virologist Dr Jameel

“It is still too early to say whether we have reached the peak. There is some indication of the cases plateauing. But we must not forget that this is a very high plateau. We seem to be plateauing around 4 lakh cases a day," said Dr Shahid Jameel.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: May 12, 2021 8:30:32 am
Dr Shahid Jameel

India’s Covid curve may be showing early signs of flattening, but, unlike the first wave, the decline in the number of new infections is likely to be much slower this time, according to noted virologist Dr Shahid Jameel.

“It is still too early to say whether we have reached the peak. There is some indication of the cases plateauing. But we must not forget that this is a very high plateau. We seem to be plateauing around 4 lakh cases a day. We might feel relieved, if we indeed have reached the peak, but the climb down is also not going to be swift,” said Jameel, also the director of Trivedi School of Biosciences at the Ashoka University.

Jameel was speaking at the Explained Live event organized by The Indian Express during which he answered questions on when the second wave of infections in India was likely to end.

“We are so focused on the peak, that once the peak is achieved, we think the job is done. But that is only half the journey… Even if we have reached the peak, and the decline starts, we will continue to report very large number of cases for a long time. It (the decline) is likely to be long drawn process, possibly extending till July or August. Supposing the case count drops from four lakh a day to two lakh or one lakh a day in a few weeks, but even these are not small numbers,” he said.

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Asked how the situation deteriorated so badly, Jameel said the country became complacent when cases were declining between September and February.

“Every budding cricketer is told never to take his eyes off the ball. (On Covid) we took our eyes off the ball. That is basically what happened,” he said.

Jameel said people were far more careful when the daily case count was in the 40,000s and 50,000s during the first wave, than when it was more than two lakh during the second wave.

Jameel said the government had erred in prematurely believing that the pandemic was over in January, and folding up temporary infrastructure. He also did not seem impressed with the Supreme Court decision to appoint a task force for oxygen supplies. “We are short on doctors and we have taken some of our best doctors and told them you play oxygen-oxygen. You decide who will get oxygen… These good doctors know about medicine, but what do they know about oxygen supply chain and logistics,” he asked.

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