First things first: the pandemic is not yet over. More infectious strains are driving up numbers. Aggressive vaccination has ensured that, by and large, even when contracted, Covid manifests as a milder disease. However, considering its long-term effects that are still being studied, limiting spread is the best option. Regular testing and vaccines can avoid disrupting the return to real normalcy. 

Milder manifestations mean milder symptoms, reducing the urgency to test. So, often, Covid infections are going undetected. Testing regularly can avoid this. This is, however, expensive. Popularising the relatively inexpensive home tests is an option. Those travelling and frequently meeting people must take regular home tests as a matter of personal safety and public health. 

For many, this too is expensive. Free, or at a nominal fee, reliable testing (RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests) services at public health institutions would help low-income workforces such as delivery persons, couriers, shop workers, etc. Offices and factories must have regular testing. Doctors have found that contracting Covid leads to about a 3-month immunity. That is why the suggestion from regulators to delay vaccination for those recovering. The vaccine and Covid-induced immunity mean a longer ‘safe’ period. Given high infectiousness and mild symptoms, together with population density, increased testing allows timing the vaccine for maximum immunity. 

India’s poor air quality adds to vulnerability to cardiopulmonary afflictions. A robust immunity to Covid is essential. With increased testing, vaccines can be leveraged for maximising immunity. More testing, timely vaccination, including a second booster for vulnerable populations, will have to be the way ahead.