COVID-19 : Have we learnt any lessons at all from last year?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Sharvari A Khandkar, a MBBS graduate from Medical College Baroda and SSG hospital. 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.


More than a year after the start of the pandemic, the world is enduring a grim 3rd wave. The latest pandemic surge in Europe, triggered by the spread of the now dominant B.1.1.7 strain of the virus first noted in England, is now being called the “third wave”. According to the who’s epidemiological update, globally new covid-19 cases rose for a 7th consecutive week, with over 5.2 million new cases reported in the last week and the number of new deaths increased for a 5th consecutive week, increasing by 8%. The largest case incidence being noted in South-East Asia (most notably India) and East Mediterranean regions.

As with the onset of the vaccination drive, the trend among people more than 80 years of age has diverged from the trend seen in every other age group. The vaccination drive in some countries has already led to reductions in weekly hospitalisation rates and deaths caused by covid-19, but with little difference in others.

But the main question stands, “why are we experiencing a third wave despite vaccination?”. This could be attributed to a lot of reasons. Firstly, the extensive travel by people across the continent for work as well as for leisure. Secondly the lack of discipline pertaining to use of masks and following strict hand hygiene. We have failed to realise that the virus has not gone anywhere, and that vaccination alone will not be protective for prevention of transmission. Thirdly the crippling status of the healthcare system, which can be attributed to a deficiency in prioritising healthcare above all in times of a deadly pandemic. It seems we have not fully learned the lesson from the past one year.

Safe and effective vaccines will be a gamechanger: but for the foreseeable future we must continue wearing masks, physically distancing and avoiding crowds. Being vaccinated does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk. As far as vaccination is concerned, it can prevent mortality and chances of progression to severe disease, not infection. We have prioritised frontline workers and the high-risk groups, and yet a large population remains to be vaccinated.

As the year has progressed, we have seen more and more recent advances in terms of medications for battling covid-19, and newer drugs being approved for use. The emphasis remains on the 3 major pillars i.e., prevention by means of- masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.

The important measures like “Stay at home” and “work from home” soon lost importance as we saw the reopening of offices and schools after the first wave, followed by resurgence of new cases. It is pertinent to note that the virus is still at large, and newer mutant strains have been found which makes detection and treatment exceedingly difficult for the healthcare workers. Lockdowns and or increased restrictions are necessary in these times, especially when the hospitals are saturated.

As the world still searches for the cure, we have certain drugs like Remidesivir authorised for treatment and others under rolling review. We are still far from finding a cure.

In conclusion, we must keep following basic precautions meticulously if we want to avoid the next wave.

References

  1. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.who.int%2Fhealth-topics%2Fcoronavirus&psig=AOvVaw0L7qu3SC5mCvcAeljAzS_g&ust=1619436573176000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCIjaqvGpmfACFQAAAAAdAAAAABAL
  2. WHO epidemiological update on covid-19 , 20th April 2021. https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/weekly-epidemiological-update-on-covid-19—20-april-2021.
  3. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
  4. FINANCIAL TIMES https://www.ft.com/content/d1af353b-709f-41d5-ac88-4ac38ee7dc6c
  5. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/covid-19-vaccines

About the author

Sharvari A Khandkar is a MBBS graduate from Medical College Baroda and SSG hospital. She has worked shifts as an intern in an COVID hospital during her internship. She believes that an effective doctor patient relationship is required for the betterment of a patient in a whole. She has always been a passionate learner and enthusiastic student. These are difficult times and she believes that together we can get through it.

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  1. Not much, I think. Thank you!

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