Plenty of reliable information on Covid 19 is available in public domain but in this tsunami of data it is getting more and more difficult to separate the chaff from the grain. We are becoming a country with highest per capita opinion..at least on Covid and as the WHO Director General has said “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic”.
Present generation doctors are fortunate to have experienced a pandemic during their active career unlike their professors in the Medical College who had only read about them in medical books. This is true of our police force too whose predecessors also might never have got such an opportunity to handle long periods of curfew in the wake of a pestilence.Hats off to both – health workers and the Police.
I am sure many of you have close relatives or friends as doctors whom you depend on these days for authentic information and personalised advice. As for me, half of my immediate family including my wife are senior doctors with long years of experience and hence have an accessible knowledge bank from where I seldom draw. But these are difficult times and here are some pieces of family silver I am parting with for public benefit (extracts from whatsapp discussions)
On British PM Boris Johnson catching Covid : “Nothing to worry, he will have and he will recover. Virus doesn’t spare anyone..most of us will have within one year if we haven’t already had it. People like Boris Johnson and Prince Charles got tested because they are important. No one else in the community are being currently tested even if they have symptoms, they just self isolate”
On increasing number of deaths due to Covid: “Everyone is counting number of deaths due to Covid with bated breath. No one is dare mentioning the 100’s and 100’s of other deaths that is going to happen due to non Covid causes. If you mention that you become a social outcaste internationally!”
On the spread: “The infectiousness is higher, but mortality is less for Covid which is a bad combination as people keep on spreading from one to another..”
“That is the key..this virus has hit a sweet spot, infectivity, low mortality, subclinical spread, lack of treatment.”
“ Sars /Mers/Ebola etc. ..mortality was much higher. The more people die, less number of people will be there to spread the disease.”
On herd immunity: “Herd immunity is just the natural cycle..whether there is plan for it or not , it will happen if people continue to mingle with each other in some way. It can never be introduced as an active measure though. It will happen in the background until the vaccine appears.”
On stocking of groceries and essentials – “Now I understand why Pappa was war ready all the time” (Pappa- their maternal grandfather-an ex army officer who always stocked provisions far in excess of immediate requirement)
“Exactly..I was thinking that ..I also am a bit like that..ready for apocalypse now.”
“Ha ha … am half way there.. but after this lockdown I might be fully there.”
“I need a rifle to add to my repertoire”.
When is the curve going to get flattened?: Well … may be when the virus doesn’t get enough new people to spread to ..over this lockdown period..the epidemic will die out..with the possibility of new infections coming back from foreign countries???”
Let’s spare our thoughts on the last chat. Will the curve get flattened after the lockdown? After 21 days what is going to happen, that is if the countrywide lockdown is lifted by then? In all likelihood there will be chaos on the road. Habits die hard. People will rush out for their old daily routine – schools, office, work sites, shopping malls, movie houses, social functions, religious gatherings and all other activities they were itching for while on lockdown. All those wage earners who have now gone back to their villages will start their urban re-migration. National and international flights will be restored. Trains and buses will start running. This can easily lead to another break out which the country cannot afford.
So my suggestion to the authorities is to prioritise and lift the lockdown in stages simultaneously setting out parameters for signs of epidemic resurgence. Let’s allow private vehicles in the first phase followed by public transport. Hotels and restaurants can be allowed but Shopping malls, movie houses, social gatherings, religious functions etc can wait. There could be controls on air traffic with priority for freight and relief materials and finally opening up for passenger traffic. There could be many other scientific approaches. Just some stray thoughts.
The authorities should realise that their decisions will be chronicled and dissected for decades or centuries to come. Any way human beings are ingenious unlike other animals. They will find a way to come out of any crises. We came out of two World Wars, bubonic plagues, and more severe pandemics but ordinary people did suffer in all these and here too the ultimate victims will be the poor.