Developing Herd immunity by killing many is not the best option here. Herd immunity is good in polio, mumps. In some diseases, herd immunity during pandemic is the best way. In 1918 flu pandemic, that lasted 3 years killed 2 crore out of 30 crore Indians alone of undivided India then. Globally it killed 10 crores. It was brought in by british soldiers travelling by ship from England.
Like influenza, corona is a disease with highly variable surface proteins due to mutatations of its strains.
Flu vaccine in every year is freshy made, because of such changes (in our mbbs days, it used to be called ‘antigenic shift and drift’).
Moreover, infectivity in covid is highest known to mankind ever, therefore it is likely to have a very high R0 (yesterday health ministry said, 1 positive case from a delhi cluster had infected upto 405 people). Higher the R0, higher is the HIT (Herd immunity threshold). In polio & smallpox with R0 between 5 &7, 80 to 85% of population must get naturally infected or vaccinated to generate herd immunity in community. These diseases have vaccine & it took 100 years to eradicate them by herd immunity. But they dont kill many, so it was somewhat ok to have herd immunity there.
Ebola and Flu has Ro between 1 & 2 with HIT between 30 & 50%. It means, if 30 to 50% of population gets infected, the community gets herd immunity. They have fairly high mortality too.
But with so high infectivity, 10 times higher mortality than flu, with no drug or vaccine at least for next 18 months, Covid is likely to have high HIT, may be 100%. It means 100% population must get infected, before herd immunity develops. If 100% Indians are infected by letting it loose, it will kill 6 to 7 crore Indians within next 2 months, with a 5% mortality. It is senseless to allow this. People 50+ with hypertension, diabetes, heart/lung disease would constitute 80% of covid deaths, who would not have died otherwise.
Breaking the chain by prolonged lockdown, targetting, tracing, testing, isolating and treating positive cases, following all hand hygiene steps, wearing Mask by all. Covid virus is a large sized virus that cannot enter through double layered cloth mask and you dont need n95 for community, except frontline staff), physical distancing ( with social closeness through phone/ social media, glasses, cough/ sneeze/ no spitting etiquette can save life by breaking the chain.
Quarantined people also should not be exposed to each other, as none knows who will turn out positive in 2 weeks. Anyone coughs and sneezes anywhere with no warning in India, therefore mask is a must.
*Nonstop minimum 8 weeks of strict lockdown* is recommened by mathematical modellers considering upto 2 weeks of incubation period and 6 weeks of viral persistence in human body.
8 weeks lockdown can end virus multiplication in most asymptomatic carriers too. Exceptionally, people have higher incubation period and longer viral persistence in body. That is rare and hopefully they will acquire herd immunity.
Breaking the chain by these stps mentioned above is the most economic way and lifesaving. It will be barbaric to let people die to render herd immunity to society.
Regarding economy, it is shortsightedness to lift lockdown prematurely. Singapore has resurgence after 2 weeks of lifting a short lockdown. Vietnam controlled well by strict measures.
Economy will get ravaged if lockdown is prematurely lifted ( anything short of of 8 to 10 weeks). On the other hand, strict lockdown alongwith testing and isolation will save us much better. By end April / may , it will peak, by july end, it will come to a state like Wuhan now, as many predicts. Till then no business house should be restless. It is in their best interest that they feed the poor now and India can feed its people even upto 6 months. From 6 months and later economy will bounce back with initial slowness. We cant help it .
Premature lifting of lockdown will spread from asymptomatics and those undetected to whole community ushering in prolonged misery, preventable and avoidable deaths, famine and social unrest.
Govt must specially protect farmers by buying their produce and supporting them to continue cultivation; otherwise, food shortage will threaten to turn into famine in 6 months or so. Farmers, like healthcare workers and sanitation staff should be prevented from getting covid disease. If there is no one fit to grow food, it will be disaster.
Life is 1st, economy is priority 2. If people die by blunders of leaders, our economy will spiral into unending misery for years. Charity and saving life by controlling the pandemic by breaking the chain is the only economic investment now.
This covid disease is not that simple given the fact that even recovered patients need not be necessarily healthy and fit or the disease doesn’t confer life long immunity .
Breaking the chain seems more economically rational presently till some treatment comes up.
General Indians will never complain much as long as just two times of meal is made available to them.
Indian government has to ensure this much for 6-8 weeks from now.
6-8 weeks because the developments in medical field seems to indicate that some form of treatment should come up that decreases the mortality of severe cases by that time.
Yes, its a gamble..but that would be more calculated gamble.