When the entire world is limping back to normalcy from the series of waves of the Wuhan—originated Covid-19 virus, another variant has hit human life. Another round of the game has started pushing entire life towards uncertainity. Be cautious but don’t panic is the common message everyone is trying to give. How should we analyse and approach this situation, and what are the lessons from the previous waves?
Like the earlier waves, attempt to exonerate and absolve the new coercive power – Communist China. The World Health Organisation (WHO), which has been using the Greek alphabet to name Coronavirus strains, has conveniently skipped the two letters Nu and Xi and jumped to Omicron. This step itself is a sign of Chinese penetration and influence in the WHO. To avoid even a distant connection of the variant with the Chinese President’s name is nothing but another attempt of whitewashing the original sin of inflicting global catastrophe by the non-transparent and manipulative Communist regime. Though blaming China is not going to solve the problem, identifying the origin of both the versions of SARS-CoV-1 and 2 from the same country can help us in fixing the responsibility and accountability.
Another fallacy is tagging the strain to South Africa. According to some media revelations, the first case of B.1.1.529 (Omicron) strain of the Wuhan Sars-CoV-2 virus was first detected in Botswana on November 9. As per the official WHO version, South Africa first reported the presence of the variant on November 24. The recent reports from Europe, the continent grappling with multiple clusters of the new variant spread over fourteen countries, suggest that the same variant was found in the Netherlands in the samples earlier than November 24. The Western world is reacting swiftly with travel bans from Africa without mentioning anything about the situation in Europe. Africa is the least vaccinated continent. Instead of providing additional vaccine supply, the United States and the United Kingdom chose to opt for booster doses for the domestic population and travel restrictions from the African continent.
The approach of Bharat is vividly different in this regard. While taking all the measures for emergency preparations, Bharat chose to ramp up the supply of medical kits, including vaccines, to the African countries. Bharat has also offered to favourably consider cooperation in genomic surveillance and virus characterisation related research work with their African counterparts. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (Entire World is one family) is not just a slogan but a conviction through action for Bharat. Hence, sharing knowledge and excess resources for the global family comes naturally.
The initial research findings through the genome sequencing of the available data suggest only one thing – ‘this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning’. Preliminary data-based evidence also indicates that an increased risk of reinfection for the previously recovered patients is possible in the case of this variant, compared to other Variants of Concerns (VOC). We still do not have any conclusive answers to the questions–whether the Omicron strain is more fatal than the Delta variant, and has the potential to decrease the effectiveness of the available vaccines. Instead of getting carried away by the Chinese pressures and the hysteria created by the Western pharmaceutical giants, the better approach is to collaborate with the African countries to get more data and assess the efficacy of the indigenous vaccines in relation to the strain. In the earlier waves, Kerala and Maharashtra were the entry points in Bharat with the prolonged health crisis due to their greater connectivity with the outside world. Both these States need to be on high alert. Cooperation, consultation, and corroboration are better options than competition and stockpiling. The global issue needs a familial approach—neither Communist revisionism nor market monopolisation can help us in addressing the unending fear and uncertainty.