Why this apathy, Kashmir?

Vaccines, testing and positive percentage: COVID19 outlook and look back
Why this apathy, Kashmir?
Representational Pic

Every day over 50,000 doses of COVID19 vaccine are administered in J&K. On some days, the vaccination count goes even upto a lakh. The pace has really picked up, and needs to be high given the rising number of cases and manifold increase in death toll. However, sluggish phases, extending into weeks, delay the second dose and increase the risk that the population faces.

Earlier this month, the Divisional COVID19 control room released the data analysis of the COVID19 fatalities. It said that 5086 people had tested positive in Kashmir between 19 August and 09 November. Of these, 21 had succumbed to the disease, 3 of them vaccinated and 18 unvaccinated. Although there was little difference in the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated people testing positive: 2329 of the fully vaccinated people were positive, the number was 2757 in the unvaccinated category. However, in the unvaccinated group, 0.65 percent people died due to the infection by SARS-CoV2, while in fully vaccinated, only 0.13 percent (One-fifth of the unvaccinated group mortality) succumbed to the illness.

Srinagar district, over the past 10 days, has recorded 6 COVID19 deaths, more than half of the deaths reported in J&K. During this period 577 cases have been recorded. Over the past two months, the district has seen a surge of cases. However, the figures of testing and cases show that there is a decline in the positive percentage if cases over the past three weeks. Positive percentage is number of samples testing positive among 100 tested. From positive percentage of 1.96 in the first week of November to 1.74 in the third, there sure is a drop in cases. However, the district still has the highest positive percentage in Kashmir.

Overall, there is a surge in the positive percentage of cases in Kashmir division. From 0.43 in the first week of November to 0.58, Kashmir sure is on an upward journey of COVID19. Districts in northern and central part of Kashmir are going through a surge. In district Baramulla, the positive percentage has gone up from 0.67 in the first week of November to 1.31 in the third. District Kupwara positive percentage is up from 0.2 to 0.6, a three-fold rise.

The official statistics show that Srinagar has 85 percent saturation of the second dose of the vaccine and in the past 10 days, 27136 doses have been administered, roughly 2700 doses a day. In other words, assuming that the eligible population of the district is around 9 lakh, nearly 3 percent people have been vaccinated in the past 10 days, a good pace but in terms of absolute numbers, it is far lesser than the doses being administered in other districts in a day.

Director General Health, Family Welfare and Immunization Dr Saleem ur Rehman said the ‘stagnantion’ in Srinagar was not a concern and the percentage of people who have taken the second dose in Srinagar was ‘quite high’. “In fact, we are ahead of targets in Srinagar,” he said. Yet, the onslaught of COVID19 in terms of cases and deaths in the Capital region is a concern that needs flagging.

At the same time, the vaccination numbers are far lower in other districts of Kashmir. At present, according to official data, Baramulla has 73 percent of its eligible population vaccinated. In Budgam, only 69 percent of the eligible population has taken the second dose. The number is just 62 percent in Bandipora.

What is more worrying is that although, the data shows that 100 percent eligible population in all districts of Jammu and Kashmir have taken the first dose of COVID19 vaccine, yet over the past 10, the same official data shows, nearly 25000 people took their first dose. The gaps in data entry need to be weeded out and the onus lies on the field staff as much as the administrators.

Recently, the daily reported cases in J&K, primarily from Kashmir region, touched nearly a four month high. Many experts have sounded alarm and sought a more stringent vigil and ban on all kinds of crowds. Many others are batting for surveillance of variants and real-time genome testing.

The Government has been expressing and voicing its satisfaction and control of the situation. It has said that the testing, tracing and vaccination were the three pronged strategy that had shown effect in keeping the surge at bay. However, whether the same strategy and the same pace of measures would be effective in keeping the Third Wave at bay needs to be discussed and debated, openly. Experts, medical practitioners and administration need to put their heads together. Without prejudice!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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