Covid-19 Crisis: Do or Die

GK File/Mir Imran

Covid 19, a notorious nanoscale virus is on an onslaught all across the globe. Doctors, nurses, paramedics in collaboration with other concerned departments under the umbrella of one health concept are working relentlessly for the well-being of humankind. But contrary to this, the response of general folks is jaw-dropping. The general public mainly in our country India and the state of J&K are laughing at the medical fraternity, scientists, and other frontline workers, also making jokes; erroneous beliefs that COVID 19 is a so-called conspiracy, a lie, and a political agenda. People must not forget it’s a pandemic, and if we see its etymology, the word pandemic is derived from the Greek word ‘Pandemos’, ‘Pan’ means all, and ‘demos’ means people. So it will be affecting human population over a wide geographical area. I will not say only the general public is responsible for the surge in Covid cases, others are too responsible.

Let me take you back few short weeks ago, Indian government officials were blooming with heartfelt praises on their strategic response against Covid 19. They were politicking that India is the pharmacy of the world and its low-priced vaccines would surely end this cataclysmic contagion all across the world. Also, the central health minister declared without any confirmation that India is now in the last stage of combat against coronavirus pandemic, and on Jan 22, 2021, one report was published in ‘Economic Times’ about the statement of Reserve Bank of India where they had proclaimed bizarrely about achieving success in bending the Covid-19 curve and even claimed that soon we will have a glorious summer ahead. But is this a reality now, such avowals sound imprudent at best today. We are seeing an exponential spike in Covid-19 cases in India, easily surpassing the statistics recorded during last autumn’s peak.  Hospital beds, oxygen cylinders are running short and so are vaccine jabs. In spite of the fact that government has ceased all Covid vaccine exportations, many states have only a few days’ supplies left in stock. Cremation grounds have no space for dead bodies, the families have to wait to perform final rituals. Administrators, chief ministers of different states are now running from pillar to post to contain the continuous spread of Covid cases.

So, what made us to come this pass? Official egotism, hyper-nationalism, populism, and a sufficient amount of administrative ineptitude have mutually created a crisis. The amalgamation of all these factors has left India vulnerable to the second wave of Covid-19 with the advent of multiplying new Covid mutants and the threat of recurring livelihood-abolishing state lockdowns. Additionally, other developing nations that were in confidence of getting sufficient doses of vaccines from India wrongly considered as ‘Pharmacy of the World’, will now have to suffer and wait for their jabs.

As rightly quoted by Thomas Faranda “Arrogance is an unhealthy ego in need of repair”, we are precisely now suffering because of the arrogant nature of these policymakers since they showed no amplified urgency vis-à-vis unfolding of vaccination programs. Didn’t they know about emerging new and virulent strains of the coronavirus, and some of them from India’s locality? They unnecessarily pushed out the Indian-based vaccine, Covaxin (Bharat Biotech) even before phase III clinical trial data was accessible and other vaccines from Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson that had already received approval in other places were unnecessarily delayed until trials could be conducted in India. Moreover, vaccine producer Serum Institute of India was banned to produce for India’s private market, though CEO Adar Poonawalla had frequently said he would offer the government doses of the Covid vaccine from AstraZeneca for only 150 Rs. ($2) each. Now the company has lost its exportation orders as well, further constraining cash flow. Consequently, the Serum Institute of India has received a legal notice from AstraZeneca company for failing to fulfill its indentures. This kind of regulatory ambivalence, bullying, lack of far-sightedness, and disdain for legitimate profit-making is familiar to every entrepreneur in country India. Such arrogance is at the root of the nation’s development and investment crisis. Now the rest of the world will have to suffer the consequences.

Lastly, observing the current scenario of Covid-19 in India, it’s very difficult now for the administrators and regulators to control the increasing cases of Covid 19, and if they linger to follow their egotistical policies without consulting scientific establishments followed by its implementation, God forbid we will be dying for one small quantum of oxygen. Therefore, it’s stressed upon the Govt to modify their policies for containment of the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides action from the Govt, it’s strictly advised for all of us to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) to contain the spread of Covid-19: it’s a DO or DIE situation.

Dr. Abrar Ul Haq Wani is Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine, Khalsa College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Amritsar (GADVASU -Punjab).