As Two Health Ministers Say ‘Pandemic Ending’, IMA Issues Warning

The Quint
·4-min read

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has warned politicians and the government over invoking a "false sense of security", after remarks by two health ministers claiming that the end of the pandemic is nearing.

On Sunday, 7 March, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said that the coronavirus pandemic is nearing the endemic phase in the national capital region.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “We are in the end game of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, and to succeed at this stage, we need to follow three steps: keep politics out of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, trust the science behind COVID-19 vaccines, and ensure our near and dear ones get vaccinated on time.”

Jain’s remark came even as the Union Health Ministry included Delhi in its list of eight states that are displaying marginal spike in the COVID-19 cases.

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The health minister also asserted that the situation of the infection with the city ‘under control’ and currently the infection rate is less than 1 percent.

Jain said that he believes “that the pandemic phase is ending, and we are now entering the endemic phase.”

What Did the IMA Say?

"It is painful to note the discussion on endemic vs pandemic status of diseases is echoing in the political corridors; however, it ought to be substantiated by scientific evidence by the World Health Organisation or ICMR only," a statement issued by the doctors' body said, according to PTI.

It said that it was incorrect at this point to say that it is the end of the pandemic or it is an endemic and added that since countries are still reeling "under the clutches of this disease, we need to deem it as pandemic only at this stage and work hard" on preventive, curative, and rehabilitative works.

"Unauthorised political statements shall invoke a false sense of security and hence, the Indian Medical Association, whose 740 frontline warriors lost their lives in this war against the coronavirus, appeals to all our fellow citizens to be vigilant on wearing mask, physical distancing and hygiene and take vaccination to get yourself immunity and altruistic health contribution for herd immunity," the body further said.

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"The introduction of a much efficacious and safe coronavirus vaccine in our country, is a tool for us to face this challenging war with confidence," the body said.

"Let us not boast or (blow the) trumpet ourselves, and indulge in prognosticating the course of this viral disease and off guard our preventive measures against this dreaded disease at this stage," the IMA warned.

What is an ‘Endemic’ Phase?

According to WHO, Endemic refers to a disease that is present permanently in a region or a population.

This means that the novel virus continues to affect people regularly but it does not change the rate of infection. The best example could be of Malaria which has become quite common in local population.

At endemic phase, an infectious disease appears to infect a particular population at a steady state. However it does not disappear completely.

Pandemic or Endemic?

Meanwhile, Dr JA Jayalal, president of Indian Medical Association told NDTV that the decision about whether it is a pandemic or endemic has to be taken by scientific bodies like the World Health Organisation or ICMR. It cannot be a political decision.”We cannot loosen our grip and guard against coronavirus infections at this crucial point. It can be disastrous," told NDTV.

"The whole world has seen second wave of coronavirus, but fortunately India has not seen that and we need to continue with our precautions. Let us not argue over whether it is a pandemic or endemic. We should just continue to work with sincerity so that we can tide over this virus,"added Jayalal reported NDTV.

(With inputs from NDTV and PTI.)

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