Dr. Satwant Singh Rissam
The battle with the third wave of Covid has started. And this time we have to acknowledge that we are prepared a lot mentally in comparison to the past two years. But until we avoid the past errors the crisis and threat remains the same because the Omicron variant is highly transmissible and is causing infections even among vaccinated people. Moreover, people who have gotten infected previously are catching the infection again. In the next few weeks, it is anticipated by the experts that we can have big infection numbers as transmission of this variant is very high. This wave has thrown a lot of new challenges for the healthcare professionals who by now are exhausted, frustrated and stressed. Adding to this is the surge of infections due to Omicron among the healthcare workers who now infact are fighting two Covid battles.
Again avoiding close contact with people and following all the Covid guidelines is needed. Although the booster dose for a high risk group of people has started yet there are many around us who are still unvaccinated. They are the real threat and are infact in the danger zone. Many people have not taken a second dose after getting the first shot of the vaccine due to continuing mental inhibition. With Omicron spreading rapidly, it’s important that all such people are made to get themselves vaccinated. It’s even frustrating to see that there is complete lack of understanding among some people even after 2 years of this pandemic. With the third wave around us it is being said that individuals who are fully vaccinated (2 doses) will need not be rushed to hospitals and only treatment at home along with oxygen monitoring will be needed. By now it is clear that vaccines have a life saving role. So the fear for vaccination should end at the earliest in our society. Too much delay or too long wait for getting vaccinated can prove harmful.
This time doctors are also prepared as during the second wave there was a lot of confusion among them which forced them to go for extra investigation and medications. Prevailing conditions at that time made doctors go for over medications which are believed to have caused black fungus in many patients. Although the hospitals after the second wave have built their capacities vis a vis ICU beds and oxygen, the worry remains to treat children who might get affected this time. Once again it will be a testing phase for our healthcare system. When the second wave ended, we hoped that this would be the last wave but little did we realize that we would lose our schedules again in a couple of months. Such new infection in the shape of Omicron has given the virus a chance to mutate and there is also possibility of a more virulent variant in the future.
We should not forget the lessons from the last wave. Since most of us have some protection in the shape of vaccination or past infection but that won’t keep us safe for long. Even if treatment is available and is emerging, it doesn’t mean it will benefit all people, especially those with more than 60 years of age, cancer, kidney disease, pulmonary issues, obesity and heart problems. And in the context of India, the number of such people is really high and falls in the highest risk zone. It is premature to say when these tides of Covid waves will end. Presently, the only way to save ourselves from facing catastrophic situations again in the weeks to come and handle the third wave is by curtailing the hunger to go out in markets, attend gatherings and political rallies.
Dr. Satwant Singh Rissam