A specialist wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sprays disinfectant while sanitizing the Rizhsky Railway Station, one of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Moscow Image Credit: Reuters

Latest alarming reports of a significant spike in Covid-19 cases in some countries may not bring back the lockdowns or roll back most of the relaxed measures. But they certainly show the need to speed up the vaccination drives worldwide as the jab represents our only way out of this vicious cycle.

The Department of Health in the UK has reported that 223 people died of coronavirus on Tuesday, the biggest toll since March this year. It also a huge spike from the 45 deaths reported a day earlier. Meanwhile, the UK has registered a daily average 45,000 new cases for the past 10 days. On Monday, the number of infections reached nearly 50,000, a record for the past six months.

The surge in numbers prompted many, especially in the health sector, to call for a Plan B, to reintroduce some restrictions that had been eased in recent months to stem the current spike in infections.

Spike in Russia

In Russia, media reports said on Tuesday that the government proposed a weeklong workplace shutdown as the national death toll from Covid-19 hit yet another daily high. The national coronavirus task force reported 1,015 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. On the same day, 33,740 new infections were registered by authorities.

While the Kremlin has ruled out a new lockdown, authorities remain cautious on easing further restrictions. The mayor of Moscow announced, “four months of stay-home restrictions for unvaccinated over-60s.”

Both countries have done very well in introducing vaccination programmes. But health workers complain that the process is slow. Despite the efforts by the Russian authorities to speed up the pace of vaccinations, widespread vaccine scepticism may have hindered those efforts — today the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated stands at 32 per cent.

Rise of cases in the UK

That is well below the rate in many counties. In the UK, too the vaccination drive, which began with an impressive speed, seems to have slowed down recently, according to doctors. Also, scientists argue that UK’s reliance on the AstraZeneca vaccine meant that it was “more susceptible to the threat of dangerous Covid-19 mutations, such as the Delta variant.”

In the past few days, a new Delta subvariant has been reported in the UK as well as in other European countries. Although the AY 4.2. is said to be “rare and does not appear to pose the same risk of significantly increased transmission as other strains”, it is poised to validate the need for speeding up the vaccination drive not only in the UK but all over the world.

Flattening the curve

Countries that have achieved a significant rate of vaccination seems to have not only flattened the curve of infections but are increasingly able to bring back life to near normalcy.

For example, in the UAE where a staggering 20 million plus vaccine doses have been administered with a population of less than 10 million people, life is steadily getting back to pre-pandemic nature: students are back in schools, most employees are at work, and thousands continue to flock the largest public event in the world, Expo2020 Dubai.

For more than a year, doctors and WHO officials pleaded with nations to speed up the vaccination process and not to allow the vaccine-sceptics and the conspiracy theorists to jeopardise the lives of millions.

To remain vigilant, wearing the face mask and exercising caution in crowded places is a necessary. But there is no alternative to the vaccine to beat this deadly virus.