COVID-19 Wave III: Were the lessons learned from last year any useful?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Sameeksha A Dibbur, a second-year medical student at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, India. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

On 31st December, 2019 China reported “a cluster of cases of pneumonia” in its Wuhan province.  On 5th January, 2020 WHO confirmed the Novel Coronavirus outbreak. Since then, there has been a massive spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2, infecting all parts of the world, even to the most remote, discreet locations of human habitation. The governments of all countries have been trying to contain the spread, yet there have been repeated recurrences of the outbreak; like the crests and troughs, they seem to appear in undulating waves, each posing more challenging.

Each wave has brought forth new challenges, while some issues from the previous year have been solved; others are yet to be addressed. The main issue during the first wave was the acute shortage of medical facilities with adequate equipment. Lack of clinical supervision because of shortage of beds caused loss of several lives, with the unpredictable, mutating virus creating confusion regarding its handling, diagnosis and treatment options. Several countries have set up Covid facilities at various accessible locations with equipment like ventilators, testing centres, laboratories, etc.  These facilities offer a variety of treatment options thus making them more affordable for the poor. The acute oxygen shortage proved to be a challenge which is now being overcome with the establishment of oxygen generation systems. Introduction of self-testing kits in many countries has proven to be significantly helpful in early diagnosis.

The previous wave witnessed large-scale unavailability of basic essentials like masks, sanitizers, foodstuff etc. which have now been made available at all stores and markets. The most prominent difference from last year is the large-scale vaccination drive. Several countries have launched full-fledged vaccination schemes and aim to vaccinate atleast half the population by July,2020. Howbeit, there are still a few disputes regarding the efficacy and safety of vaccines, and thus hesitancy.

However, several other harsh lessons from the previous year have been overlooked and still pose a concern for the third wave. Delay in government action in imposing lockdowns and movement restrictions has been a significant contributor in the rise of cases with various political leaders resorting to blame games. This is the time for unified action not just within a country, but worldwide. Several rallies and protests including the US Presidential elections, BLM protests worldwide and the Farmer’s Protests in India have accelerated the spread of the infection due to mass crowding and insufficient precautions.  Improper advocation of concepts of seroprevalence and herd immunity may have been contributing factors to ennui and despondency within the public. Several under-developed and developing nations still dependent in handling the crisis.

Thus it may be assumed that while some lessons from the previous year have been reviewed and resolved, there is a lot left uncovered. This pandemic is a global issue and it is absolutely vital that all the countries work unanimously towards our common goal. Like Ryunosuke Satoro said, “Individually, we are one drop, but together, we are an ocean.”   

About the author

Sameeksha A Dibbur is currently a second-year medical student at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, India. She is an active member of IFMSA in her university. She is deeply interested in public health, human rights and medicine. She is of the opinion that medicine is an ever-evolving field that always has so much to offer and learn; not just from patients but from nature itself.

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