‘People Have Thrown Safeguards Out Of The Window’

Dr Abdul Samad Ansari, Director, Critical Care Services, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai talks about the risks of second covid-19 wave and the need to not lower our guard

The second wave is a known entity. In fact people are now talking about the third wave too. These are but the ripple effects. The spread of a contagion depends on our social behaviour: how we maintain hygiene and how we interact. If you are meeting five to seven people in a day, it can set off a block chain of infection. If you cut down on that interaction, besides using precautionary measures such as wearing masks and sanitising, you reduce the spread potential. It is that simple.

This happened last year. In September we saw the peak. And in the subsequent months, the efforts of previous six months bore fruits. But we started celebrating prematurely. As we lowered our guard, we are now facing the consequence. People returned to their daily routine as if it was business as usual. The resurgence in Covid-19 cases is a direct result of that. April and May will show the same kind of prolonged plateau. But if we again start becoming more careful, follow strict precautionary measures, along with the vaccination, there will hopefully be a flattening of the curve in June.

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Unlike the first wave, when majority of the elderly population fell prey to the contagion, the infection is seen more in the 35-65 years bracket. This is a mobile population, who are traveling for work, going out more in public and therefore getting infected.

Thankfully, our systems are not as overwhelmed as last year and the mortality rate is also not high. But if the cases continue to grow manifold, the resources will spread out thin. The same virus with only 100 people today as compared to 1000 people tomorrow will have a different mortality scenario. It is not the virus which is causing it, but the number of cases which will impact the resources and mortality.

I can notice that the attitude of people has gone back to pre-pandemic days. Many of them have this misconception that if they didn’t get Covid for one year during its rage, it won’t happen when it is weakening down. ‘Kuch nahi hota, mujhe kuch nahi hoga, dekha jayega.’ This is the kind of Covid-apathy that is setting in, and it is dangerous.

This pandemic has brought about some kind of hygiene training and discipline among us. There is no harm in maintaining it. My message to public is: we still need to practice these hygiene precautions aggressively; unnecessary travel, gatherings, entertainment activities should be avoided or carried out with behavioural modifications such as sanitizing, scrupulous handwashing and face masks.

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I have seen 80 percent of people in public do not wear a mask properly. Mostly, these are hanging over the neck. People have also stopped meticulously washing their hands. They feel twice in a day is good enough. People are all over the places. While I don’t want to sound negative, we need to get our guards and shield back.

Frontline workers and their families have suffered for one year, we have to acknowledge those sacrifices and not lower the defence. For a year, since the onset of pandemic, my colleagues and I went home late every night, only to leave early in the morning. I could not take care of my wife, parents and children. On the contrary, I could be possibly walking in with the virus infection every day. This was a real burnout. People must realise that their careless behaviour can negate all the hard work put in by frontline worker for one year.

As told to Mamta Sharma

‘I Had Zero Side-Effect After Second Covid Vaccine Shot’

Dr Amiya Kumar Verma, deputy medical superintendent at Max Hospital Patparganj, Delhi, got his 2nd shot of vaccine on Feb 13.  Having seen the battle against Covid from the frontline, he is relieved to see the vaccination moving in right direction

I got my first dose of Covishield vaccine on January 16, 2021, the day when the nationwide Covid-19 vaccine drive was started. I had volunteered to take the shot on the very first day itself as I wanted to remove the fears of some of the doubting Thomases in my team.

And it worked. Of the 100 health-workers slotted to be vaccinated on day one, 70 came forward; this was the best percentage score from Delhi centres. It was natural for them to have anxiety about the vaccine, but when they saw the seniors taking the jab, they felt encouraged.

I must also appreciate the government’s efforts and planning for the vaccination at the designated unit in our hospital (Max Patparganj). The drive was monitored by health officials who informed the beneficiaries of possible side-effects and managed it smoothly.

Of the 70 who were vaccinated that day, almost everyone experienced a mild fever and weakness for a few days. I too had similar experience but the effects tapered off in three to four days.

ALSO READ: ‘Mild Fever Overnight Was The Only Side-Effect’

After the first vaccination shot, there was a survey carried by the government through a toll-free number for feedback about the procedure followed, hygiene maintained at the centre, and if the beneficiaries were attended to for the designated period post-vaccination.

The second shot after 28 days, that is on Feb 13. This time, there were no side-effects. Not even mild fever; I even went for my routine evening walk. As the experience was shared, it has raised hope and confidence among others about the vaccination programme.

I have been telling the heads of each department in our hospital to lead from the front so that the rest of the staff gains confidence. Of the 2,200 to be vaccinated, about 1,600 have got the jab. The ones left include those who adopt a wait and watch policy. They want the others to take the second dose and wait for their side effects.

In our battle against the pandemic, other than basic precautions, we simply do not have any other alternative except the two vaccines available. So why should I not take it!

Dr Verma considers vaccine a blessing amid pandemic

It is a blessing for the healthcare workers and their families as well as for those who have lost their loved ones during this pandemic. This pandemic made people so helpless that they couldn’t be at the side of their loved ones in the hospital or bid them a final goodbye. I have seen deaths where relatives prayed us to let them visit their patients one last time. And then, there were some people who did not come to see their family members for the fear of contagion. Such has been the stigma and the hopelessness that the pandemic caused.

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It is disappointing to hear some people say, that if others have taken the vaccine, we don’t need it. The idea for taking the vaccine is that the antibodies are developed in our body; it doesn’t mean that we won’t get the infection. What it means is by chance even if we get it, we will not have a serious effect like it did in the past after having taken the shot.

I want to tell people that if I have taken the vaccine then I can face and fight coronavirus while the one who is not vaccinated is neither safe from contraction nor capable of battling the virus. So this mentality that let others take it and we will be safe is not the right one.

If the government puts a price on the vaccination, I am sure people will stand in queue to get it but because the government is doing it free of cost, people are taking it for granted. Also the social media spreads a lot of misinformation. People keep forwarding a message that can do more harm than good without reading or understanding it.

As told to Mamta Sharma

Watch – ‘Govt Must Keep Vaccine Prices Affordable’

As vaccination drive against Covid-19 steps into the second-shot stage, LokMarg tries to find out people’s expectations and anxieties about the jab. The respondents looked aware of the vaccination and there was little fear in their mind with regards to its efficacy or side-effects

However, they feel that when the times comes for buying the vaccines from the market, the health regulators must ensure that their prices are affordable for common people. This would also ensure success of mass vaccination programme in the country.

Watch the full video here