Saturday, September 18, 2021

Ramp up vaccination

Editorial 2

Corona virus has hit every institution of the society and the disturbance can be seen from the faces of people. The second wave hit us unawares. Although cases were rising across India and there were definite signs that it would hit our state as well sooner or later, nothing was done to blunt the impact of the wave. Cases of Covid-19 started rising steeply. Family after family started falling prey to the virus. And then there were knee jerk reactions. With an impending third wave, there is a need for all of us to think logically and mould our behavior accordingly. We need to understand the message of this virus and to take necessary measures to sideline the risks. The advisories need to be followed in letter and spirit. Unfortunately with Unlock-5 our people appear to have forgotten that the corona virus is still virulent in our state as well as the rest of the world. People are seen not even following simple guidelines like wearing masks, or maintaining social distancing in public places. We seem to have forgotten that almost every family got affected in the previous two waves, and that there is the danger of a third wave soon, which could be more devastating. One thing that clearly will play a great role in how the future of the pandemic will shape up for us is what we do now – individually, collectively and administratively. For more than a year, socialization, work and lives were taken hostage by the pandemic. And at the moment, people are reclaiming all these spaces and there is a lot of intermixing and gathering. When the cases dip, a complacency regarding the importance of masks creeps in and it has already happened here. The gatherings and the lack of adherence to Covid-19 appropriate behavior could be our little invitation to a rise in cases without a wave too. In case of a wave, such events trigger catastrophes. Clearly people need to be reminded again of the importance of masks and administration needs to ensure that crowds are small, less frequent and better behaved. On the health front, in the past months we have seen improvement in our capacity to support oxygen beds. However, much more is still required. Nagaland has also shown that it is able to create hundreds of beds across hospitals within no time. This is usually done by closing down all OPD and non-emergency services in hospitals and utilizing the spaces and the resources for the management of Covid-19. For a year, cumulatively, routine healthcare has taken a jolt due to this arrangement that could and should now be a stop gap. The designated hospitals need to be kept ready, in terms of manpower as importantly as in terms of infrastructure and equipment. Doctors, nurses and paramedics need to be trained and more need to be hired to deliver services such as ICU support and oxygen delivery. Importantly we need to ramp up vaccination. A sure shot against Covid-19 is the vaccine. Much has been written and said about whether vaccines work or do not work against the new variants, how much protection they offer and why get vaccinated at all. However, across the boards, there is a consensus that vaccination does help in reducing the severity of symptoms, even if there is a re-infection. The vaccines have also proven to be safe so far, nothing major attributed to an adverse drug reaction. The vaccines are also almost readily available, and free of cost. Yet, only half of the eligible beneficiaries have taken the first shot so far in the state. The remaining population has no protection against the virus and the third wave. Even those who have taken one dose are only partially and inadequately protected. How fast we are able to give both doses of the vaccine to all the eligible age groups will determine the third wave impact on the community here. At the same time test, track, treat and vaccination is a hollow slogan if not done diligently, continuously, intensely and immediately.