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As the world moves closer to its first Covid-19 vaccine, India can pat itself for high recovery rate

India, which reported its first Covid-19 case on January 30, hasn’t fared badly in managing the pandemic, though the total number of cases stands at over 8.9 million as on November 19. Even as the numbers are still rising, India’s success story is etched in its recovery rate. Over 8.38 million have recovered—which is an impressive 93 per cent.

While naysayers have been busy saying that the official numbers do not present an accurate picture and that several cases go unreported, there is no doubt that the country’s medical fraternity as well as the state and local-level administration have risen to the occasion.

Amid expectations that the first Covid-19 vaccine could hit the markets before the year-end, the daily number of fresh coronavirus cases in India has been below the 50,000 mark for over 10 days now, giving hope that the peak may be behind us.

Though the pandemic has hit the socio-economic fabric of the country like never before but one must also remember that experts had predicted a far worse impact of the coronavirus spread in India. In March, Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) had said that India with its density of population could have 300 million cases.

Many experts have questioned the coronavirus numbers. “Even if one had to double the official number, it would be far less than the 300 million,” a physician who wished to remain anonymous said.

Contrary to popular belief, the spread of the disease did not touch rural India thanks to the local level administration. Many had feared that the villages would turn Covid hotspots with thousands of migrant laborers returning home. That clearly did not happen.

Sample this. Managir, a small, sleepy village nestled in the hills of Uttarakhand—near Muketshwar—claims to have remained Covid-free despite migrants coming back home and tourists flocking around the area. “Anyone who has fever, especially those who came from outside, was admitted into a hospital to check any spread of the virus. That apart, temporary shelter homes were made for people visiting the place from outside, who had to mandatory go through a stringent quarantine process,” one of the villagers said.

In the villages of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and other states, the story is just the same. Collectively, the local residents with the help of the thousands of Asha and Anganwadi members have battled the spread of the virus.

The travel histories of those coming from the cities have been diligently checked by the district administration. Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh—home to many migrant laborers—was one of the many towns that was marked red on the Covid -19 map. Temporary quarantine homes, inside marriage halls, school premises, etc., were set up for the migrants returning home. “There were running kitchens at these centres to feed the people. Several committees were set up to monitor the return of migrant laborers and assist them in their medical check-ups before they are let free,” said a local official.

Even as the world moves closer to getting the first Covid vaccine, after over one year when the first coronavirus case was detected in China’s Wuhan on November 17, 2019, the pandemic has left a trail of death and devastation.