Editorial: Containing second wave of Covid-19 Pandemic in India

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By Lt Gen BNBM Prasad, SM, VSM (Retd)

Lucknow: Covid-19 Infection took the world by a tsunami soon after acute pneumonia deaths attributing to it were reported in December 2019 amongst Wet Market workers in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Since then, the pandemic has been a global emergency, affecting more than 133 million and causing more than 2.8 million deaths with India, one among the worst hit suffering the maximum when the country was all set to become a 5 trillion economy by 2024.

India under the Modi government took the challenge head on in containing the initial wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, notwithstanding limited resources and huge population to deal with. Credit should go to the government in largely succeeding in raging the initial fire. Despite all odds, India demonstrated to the world of achieving one of the highest recovery and the lowest mortality rate respectively among the infected, besides emerging as a global player in the fight against the pandemic. The nation was united with both Indian pharmaceutical Industry and health care system working in the right earnest, playing a pivotal role in realizing the mission much to the envy of some of the most advanced countries in the world.

Despite stringent measures undertaken by the determined Modi government, after a brief lull, there is the resurgence of the pandemic with much fire and fury during last 2 weeks taking the entire health care system on to the edge, notwithstanding accrued experience of the last one year in handling the pandemic. The fear of the infection due to double mutant variant of the virus looms large, warranting intensifying the hunt for the double mutant variant as we are in the endgame of Covid-19 pandemic in India.

Considering cyclical nature of pandemic, the current surge with much ferocity is on the expected line as the Covid fire is deeply entrenched in the community risking intermittent volcanic eruptions capable of challenging the system to the brink even of those having the most advanced health care facility. It is expected that this pandemic to last long till the majority of the population get infected and develop the herd immunity.

In order to sustain benefits gained so far in containing the pandemic, collective co-operation of both the citizen and the state is a must. The state should ensure that the emergency Covid Care is made available at all the time at the very door step of the needy with the local primary health care facility taking the lead in optimizing the functioning with available resources.

Unfortunately, health emergency services in the country are found wanting and the current Covid pandemic has precipitated the crisis that even the advanced tertiary care centers in the country find it difficult to dampen. In these difficult times, health care system should undergo metamorphosis that ensures good performance by showing results on the ground without passing the buck and engaging in the blame game. Front-line Covid Care Workers who face the brunt daily have to hone their skills to deliver the best to the sick and in this regard, they should not be found deficient in their competence and commitment. To gain the public confidence in the health care system, there are no easy solutions, demanding the highest display of professionalism by all the concerned amidst chaos and misery.

The mass vaccination drive undertaken by the Modi Government, especially vaccinating the vulnerable on top priority is a welcome move warranting total public support as India is all poised to end the pandemic soon. Now that we have the government approved vaccine for the clinical use, public should undergo vaccination en-masse, notwithstanding some reports of serious side effects and limited efficacy of the vaccine. It is highly a daunting to the Modi government in making available more than a billion dose of vaccine that is required to inoculate the masses in a short period. These are extraordinary times and extraordinary measures with total participation of both the public and the private are the need of the hour at a time when the government is struggling in the effort to recover from losses due to the pandemic and to make both ends meet.

Mass chemo-prophylaxis is highly desirable but not yet ready. In the absence of a magic bullet against the virus, preventing community transmission to thwart the volcano from erupting through measures such as social distancing, respiratory hygiene, wearing of the mask should be carried out on a war footing with quarantining asymptomatic infected cases.

         (Writer is Professor, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, KGMU, Lucknow)

         (Views expressed are personal)