Dr. V K Singh
Editor-in-Chief & MD,
The pandemic of Covid 19 has ambiguously put us in dark as we have very limited knowledge of handling it, everyone has something to suggest about its diagnosis and treatment with every sort of permutations and combinations. WhatsApp nowadays has full of reading material to share irrespective of the content being right or wrong and this activity has kept everyone busy. Can we draw inferences from past epidemics such as Plague, Smallpox, Cholera and last one was Spanish Flu in 1918-1920 almost hundred years back caused by a virus which has already been synthesised and evaluated. It is estimated that almost one-third of the world’s population then that is 500 million got infected with a death estimate of 50 million. There were no vaccines for treatment and deaths were due to respiratory infarction like Pneumonia. One catastrophe was not enough as it was coupled with World War1.
COVID 19 also after 100 years has the same story to repeat, disease by various mutated variants of virus with no vaccine and treatment. Its similarity of respiratory complications and also coupled with many associated disasters like skirmishes at the northern borders, floods and earthquakes gave a déjà vu of 100 years back.
“We have accepted out of compulsion that one can survive without travel, business meetings, social functions, and extravagance however every adversity brings opportunity to change as it is a necessity for survival.”
We are still having the same old dictum to follow disinfection, quarantine and personal hygiene. With all the scientific knowledge can we overcome disease or come to the conclusion that it is self limiting disease and would take two years to control as in the past. The race for vaccine and drug development is in full swing in many countries but ultimately theory of herd immunity is likely to prevail as no vaccine presumably would be available before the year 2021. What is the learning of Covid, is its phenomena of population stabilisation of nature and rule of survival of fittest would apply is a very bold statement and would not appeal to many in the scientific community. Did it happen due to Climatic changes, pollution or the change in lifestyle. The immunity is lowered due to all these factors and our resistance to fight such disease has deteriorated.
There is a change in behaviour due to the onset of pandemic. We have accepted out of compulsion that one can survive without travel, business meetings, social functions and extravagance however every adversity brings opportunity to change as it is a necessity for survival. We are already innovating and there are mega hackathons conducted by the government to tinkle young minds to find solutions to resolve the menace. For every good idea,the resources are made available by many agencies. The things not happening for decades are now happening in months to help the mankind. A lot can be done with limited resources as showcased by the entrepreneurs and NGOs. Mass media and mobile phones convey the message of alternate solutions. The overburdened health infrastructure has overnight sprung to create facilities of additional hospital beds for thousands and many places turned into makeshift hospitals.
The cost of pandemic would be mind boggling, development of the vaccine itself has been estimated to be Rs 80,000 crores by few. Business, education and many initiatives became online and digitalisation came into practice which would have taken years to adopt. Would cost be an offset by new world order by bringing many new initiatives, tools and techniques. I was conversing with one of the scientist, who mentioned that thinking of pandemic experience and premonitions of the worst with its second wave brought goosebumps in me which has never happened earlier. Many of us would have the same feeling in future whenever we think of this past.
Nature has its own way to handle issues and reach its objectives. Would the world be different after this pandemic ?