Home >Opinion >Quick Edit >Opinion | India’s best bet

Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday seemed to rule out herd immunity as a strategic option in our battle against covid-19. This is a relief. Recent sero-surveys conducted in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai found high levels of exposure to the virus, giving rise to talk that we would all be better off exposing ourselves to the virus to develop antibodies. Once enough of us had internal defences, it was said, our chain of infections would snap. India’s low fatality rate was cited in favour of the idea. But it had to be rejected.

For one, India’s population is too vast and spread out. Two, a quest for herd immunity would endanger the elderly and other vulnerable groups. Moreover, we don’t know how long the natural immunity gained through casual contact lasts. Some studies suggest that such antibodies lose efficacy within months. Yet, it’s true that every Indian needs immunity. The best way to deliver this, though, would be through mass vaccination once a vaccine passes safety tests and is ready for use. We need a government-funded programme that covers every citizen. Even if this costs a lot, free shots should be made available to all.

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