Here should no longer be any doubt about the predictions of the coming of a fourth wave of the covid-19 pandemic, because the numbers say that it is now well and truly upon us. Perhaps more worrisome is that the force driving it is apparently the delta variant that caused so much devastation in India. Not only is the delta variant that much more infectious, but it is also more deadly. India was left with a shortage of oxygen, as well as an overcrowding of cremation grounds and cemeteries.
Before such haplessness strikes here, it would be advisable if it would throw off the euphoria it has developed by facing off previous waves, and its assumption that it has shown exceptional cleverness, but looking forwards to the dangers coming ahead. Most immediately is Eidul Azha. Though there is not as much shopping as on Eidul Fitr, which is now past, there is still some. Apart from that, there is a flocking to the animal markets, many of them impromptu roadside affairs, and then on Eid and succeeding days, there will be the traditional socialisation. It would help if the government curbed its eagerness to keep the economy open, too often by rushing to reopen markets, restaurants and offices.
The government is faced with a stark choice. It could look bad and close down sections of the economy, or it could let people die. Apart from the sheer moral impossibility to the latter choice, the government must realise that if enough people die, the economy collapses anyway. The vaccine has not provided as effortless a way out of the pandemic, and if the government wants to benefit from it, it will have to do much better at administering it than it has so far. All the passive inducements have been tried so far, such as reducing age limits, so what is now needed are more active measures. That requires a quality of leadership that goes beyond claims of having done well.