Recovering after two waves, is this the lull before another storm? | Mumbai News – Times of India

By: Dr Hemant Thacker
We are midway 2021 but Covid-19 continues to haunt us. An RNA virus, sprung out of who knows where, astutely mutating has continued to baffle, fool and repeatedly re-engage with science, doctors and of course the targets. The world has already seen two very horrible waves and India in specific was crippled, criminalised and then barricaded by the second deadly wave.
The US, where last month, I, first hand happened to see the new freedom, post-successful sizeable vaccination, has again started reporting a tad but definitive rise in numbers. Britain, which is on the verge of reopening with the unmasked Wimbledon, has recently reported more than 50,000 cases. Japan and the Olympic Village are also under the throes of another wave.
Which brings me home to our difficult but seemingly tangible situation. After the anguished April and mauled May, the strict lockdown coupled with enforced measures and probable increase in the number of vaccinations, we saw June changing the tune. Our numbers, especially in the threatened metros of Mumbai, Delhi and the South, except Kerala, have dwindled to manageable levels. The number of jumbo centres, Covid wards and ICU beds have all been downgraded and are relatively empty. The smile has returned on the medical and paramedical staff and one can sense the relief that has returned in the demeanour of the frontline workers. There are instances of fully vaccinated individuals testing positive with mild symptoms, but none of them have had serious issues. The unpredictable behaviour of the Delta variant has still not allowed the equation to change.
Is this the taming of the shrew? Or is it the lull before the storm?
Swing the camera to the other fact of reality. Hill stations are overflowing, flights are packed to full capacity, social functions and markets are going about their work as if Covid is history. Congregations of people, whether for political, religious or even demonstration reasons, are often flouting laws with gay abandon. Covid-appropriate behaviour, namely masking and distancing, seems to have taken a backseat.
In the next three months we can wrest the wheel of fortune in our favour.
The WHO has predicted it, the paediatric population has been outlined as the next target, and everyone is anticipating the next wave.
From the clinician’s perspective, vaccination is still the most important feature followed by appropriate masking (not chinning or only dangling) and definitely social distancing. The virus needs new targets to multiply and if it does not find one, it automatically dies. So, the jump of the virus from person to person can be interrupted by distancing, filtered by masking and tamed by vaccination.
Administratively, one has to invoke a criminal law to discourage Covid-inappropriate behaviour which is continuously increasing. The Indian Academy of Paediatricians and others have predicted that more and more children could get infected mainly asymptomatically or mildly with less chances of serious disease.
Having said this, the theme of every community should be to dwindle the ‘pandemic’ to ‘epidemic’ proportions and finally allow it to become ‘endemic’, whereby we learn to live with the virus and adapt to its behaviour. Like man has adapted to the influenza virus, we will have to endeavour to develop herd immunity. In the interim if we let our guard down, then the third wave is a surety. Remember a caged and then mutated virus, strikes with double vengeance.
If we are to finally win we have to wield the willow correctly otherwise there is no “Nyay” against Covid.
(Dr Hemant Thacker is a consultant physician & cardiometabolic specialist from Mumbai affiliated to the Times Group. Email: [email protected])

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