Surge in Covid 19 cases could derail economic revival, govt may embark on mass vaccination drive

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Focus now on economic revival despite Covid 19 surve

As India’s single day spike of Covid 19 cases crossed the psychological 1 lakh figure on Sunday, concerns over economic revival have risen. Continued surge in Covid 19 cases could derail economic activities and delay recovery, especially in sectors such as civil aviation, retail, hospitality, travel and tourism. To contain the spread of virus, the Centre could look at opening up vaccination drive for all age groups while pressing the pedal on testing.

The Centre is also looking at giving its approval for a few more Covid 19 vaccines including the Russia-developed Sputnik V in the next few days.

While the government has indicated that there will be no repeat of a nationwide lockdown, local restrictions and increase in the number of hot spots and containment zones will be strictly imposed.

A Crisil research pointed out that the total number of persons vaccinated, at 7.9 crore -- as of April 4-- is more than six times the total infected (1.2 crore), but only 5.5 doses have been administered per 100 people, against the world average of 8.3 doses.

The report also noted that though the fresh cases were initially concentrated in Maharashtra, they are now spreading to other states leading to a dip in mobility towards end-March.

“We were working on a plan to resume work from office but now with the surge in Covid 19 cases, the plan has got shelved indefinitely,” a mid-level executive engaged in a start-up company told India Narrative.

Besides, several companies, which were gradually resuming work related travel, have once put a blanket ban on such activities.

Industry body Ficci has already asked the government to increase testing and tracking to contain the spread at the earliest.

“People had lowered their guard which has led to the rise in cases. The containment zones must be identified and cordoned off to ensure that the spread is contained. We also feel that vaccination must be opened up for all at the earliest,” Dilip Chenoy, secretary general, Ficci said.

A senior executive with a private airline company added that with the drop in Covid 19 cases in February, there was wide expectation of 100 per cent resumption of flight operation.

“At present we are operating at about 80 per cent of our capacity but we had hoped for business and operations to reach pre-Covid levels by April, but now there is uncertainty once again,” the executive said.

India’s economy contracted by 24.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2019-20 owing to a stringent Covid 19 induced lockdown while in the second quarter it was a (-) 7.3 per cent. However, India managed to bounce back and registered an economic growth of 0.4 per cent for the third quarter of the financial year.

The World Bank recently jacked up its projections for India’s economic growth by 4.7 percentage points to 10.1 per cent for 2021-22.

“We need to take steps to ensure that the economic activities are not dented, mass vaccination is the way forward,” an analyst said.