Indian Express Explained 09/05/2020

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1)Explained: Are immunity passports, release certificates the way to go?:- countries such as the UK, Italy and Germany have also considered issuing “immunity passports” and “risk-free certificates” that would enable people to travel or return to work based on the assumption that having contracted the disease once, they would be immune to it for a considerable period of time.

what do Critics Say :- An article in The Lancet states using such documents poses “considerable scientific, practical, equitable, and legal challenges.” This is because it is not known if the presence of antibodies means that the person has developed immunity. Further, it is also not known what amount of antibodies will kick-off an immunity response and for how long.

Vaccine Certificates are better:- Further, while a vaccine for Covid-19 may be months away, immunity passports are fundamentally different from vaccine certificates since the former incentivises infection and the latter incentivises getting vaccinated. Vaccine certificates may be an effective way to start lifting physical distancing measures, but this can also be implemented once a vaccine is ready.

2) An Expert Explains: What SARS taught East Asia, and what India can learn from Covid

What SARS taught :- Lifestyles perceptibly changed in many East Asian countries after SARS. In places like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the use of face coverings in public places became the norm.

The practice was continued even after the outbreak was over. People with coughs and colds attend office with face coverings. New norms developed for touching of surfaces in public places. In East Asia, most people now press elevator buttons with a finger knuckle, avoiding direct contact with their fingertips. People are also more careful and use more hygienic sense in using public restrooms. Frequent handwashing is a norm.

SARS also prompted some introspection about working and travel arrangements. Faced with temporary travel restrictions during the epidemic, the Asian Development Bank experimented with undertaking loan negotiations through videoconferencing. This turned out to be as efficient as face-to-face meetings and has now become the norm. A realisation set in that much of business travel could be severally rationalised.

SARS, and subsequently H1N1, also prompted East Asian countries to deepen their regional cooperation on pandemic preparedness and response.

SARS also provided a major push to the World Health Organization’s effort to revise the International Health Regulations (IHR) to make them more effective.  Starting in 2003, the revised IHR were approved by all member states within 18 months in May 2005 — a speed akin to that of light in the glacial world of international agencies where negotiations on only one phrase can take years.

These reforms have definitely helped East Asian countries in effectively dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

What can be learn From COVID-19:- Lives, social practices, working arrangements and the health sector will surely irreversibly change with the Covid-19 crisis in our country as well.

The extent to which handwashing and other hygienic and physical distancing practices become part of our lifestyles; our work arrangements change, with greater reliance on technology-enabled conferencing and supervision and reduced travel; access to healthcare increase through enhanced use of telemedicine; our disease reporting and surveillance systems become stronger; and expenditure on health becomes comparable to our peer nations, is yet to be seen.

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