Around this time last year, coronavirus cases in India were in steady decline even while most of Europe, the United States and Brazil were detecting record numbers of infections. The festival season in India had gone without any spike in cases, and even an election had been conducted, in Bihar. Normal activities were resuming and most people believed, mistakenly as it turned out later, that the worst of the pandemic was over.
One year later, the situation is eerily similar. The daily count of cases in India is at its lowest in 18 months. Five months of a continuous decline in cases after the devastating second wave has ensured a return, in most cases, to normal activities. And the general refrain, once again, seems to be that the worst is probably over for India. This, even when Europe and the US, and several other countries, are in the midst of their worst phase in the pandemic so far.
Behind those similarities, however, are key differences between the situations last year and now. Some of these, the threat from Omicron for example, point to the possibility of the events repeating themselves, while others — such as development of vaccines, and even therapeutics — are indications that 2022 could be remarkably different from 2021, for the better. The uncertainties and the experience of the pandemic until now, however, make it difficult for anyone to make predictions.