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As China intensifies Covid-19 lockdowns, India gradually opens up

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As India’s neighbour imposes strict lockdowns to arrest the spread of Covid, is gradually relaxing its curbs.


In fact, there is no sense of alarm in as struggles to keep the rising cases under check.


On Monday, dropped the requirement for vaccination certificates for inbound travellers, joining Thailand, which eased the rule from October 1.


Wearing masks in flights has already been made optional. Public life is back to pre-pandemic normal.


The lack of alarm in India is because of several reasons — for one, there are no direct flights between and India now. Experts said India never went for a zero-Covid policy (and rightly so); and data shows that


India and China have seen limited correlation in cases. Spikes in one country have not coincided with a spike in the other.


India had nearly 400,000 daily cases on a seven-day moving average basis in May 2021. This was the peak since the pandemic began. China had only 22 daily cases at that time.


China, currently, has over 26,000 daily cases. It has more than doubled over the previous 10 days. India’s cases have nearly halved during the same period.


The correlation between the two countries has been negative, shows an analysis of data from April 2020.


The correlation value of -0.2 suggests that cases are more likely to fall in India when there is a rise in China, based on historical data.


Currently, millions of Chinese citizens, especially in cities like Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing, have been asked to stay home this weekend. This comes as the country’s daily Covid infections crossed 32,000 on Thursday.


This is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. Chinese cities are implementing targeted lockdowns and there is mass testing also.


Shahid Jameel, senior research fellow at Green Templeton College, Oxford University, said, “China and India are very different. India never went for a zero-Covid policy and rightly so.”


He added: “In India, besides vaccination, there has also been lots of infection. This hybrid immunity will protect people from severe disease.”


Jameel, however, feels that India needs to push boosters and do it based on science.


“The current booster policy has no evidence base. India should also continue surveillance. It’s also time to evaluate population-based immunity through multiple types of studies,” the expert quipped.


Another noted virologist Jacob John said the rest of the world is not in sync with China as such.


“We don’t have minute details of their internal developments. We are keeping a watch, and it’s necessary to do so. However, I fail to understand why they are going for lockdowns when Omicron and its sub-variants are the dominant strains globally. It is not causing severe disease of hypoxia,” John said.


He agrees that India let the virus run free among its population, and thus, most of its citizens now have hybrid immunity from infection. “Our booster and precaution dose coverages need to be boosted,” he added.


Experts feel that as long as Omicron continues to be the dominant strain, there is less reason to worry.

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