Kerala’s Covid puzzle grows more worrisome

In vaccination the state has done well, with 20.9% of the 18+ population fully vaccinated, next only to Himachal Pradesh’s 21.1%, and way ahead of India’s 9.9%.

But Kerala’s continuing high incidence of Covid cases has been a worry. It recorded 1,10,593 fresh cases in the last seven days, not only amounting to 41% of all cases in the country but also registering a sharp 15.7% surge over the previous week.

Experts who have been arguing in favour of the state’s infection management, cite more robust testing than other states, plus point to hospital and ICU capacity not being under pressure.

But the problem is that despite Kerala’s high vaccination, this is the first time in seven weeks that any state in the country has reported over 1 lakh fresh cases in a week ending Sunday. Current CFR also exceeds 1% in many districts now.

Adding to the puzzle, the fourth ICMR serosurvey has found that only 42.7% of people have antibodies in Kerala as compared to the all-India figure of 67.6%. This suggests that despite the sustained higher infection rate than the country, the virus has made lesser inroads here.

Aren’t these ideal conditions for more mutations? Are variants playing here in a distinct way? Do first dose vaccinations need to be prioritised to cover a wider population? Why haven’t the state’s lockdowns been working? Genome sequencing and other research needs to be intensified to answer these questions. The state government and Centre need to work together on this.

Read also: Explained in 5 charts – Why Kerala’s Covid situation has kept India on edge



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