Second Wave of COVID Pandemic
World Health Organization declared the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pandemic in March 2020. Since then, countries around the world have seen a high rate of infections that still continues, a year later.
In India, we had the first wave that peaked in September, and gradually subsided. By January the cases started decreasing. After the start of the vaccination drive, one thought the pandemic would gradually dissipate.
Unfortunately, cases started surging in April and we entered the second wave. Scientists globally have predicted that coronavirus will be similar to the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. There will be two or three waves before the disease dies down and becomes endemic.
How is this wave different from the first one?
There are many positive and negative aspects to this question. The positive aspect is we as a country are much better prepared for this disease now. We have improved in terms of medical equipment, PPE kits, masks etc, then we were a year ago.
The understanding of the disease and treatment has tremendously improved, and doctors have gained more experience since regarding management. Most importantly, vaccines have rolled out giving us a great weapon to fight this disease. Healthcare infrastructure, which was a chaos last year has been streamlined now. Additionally, general population has more awareness on COVID norms and handling home isolation.
On the flip side, this wave is surging quickly and affecting a large number of people. This is overwhelming the healthcare infrastructure and tiring our healthcare workers. This second wave is of our own making, as we did not follow the COVID norms diligently. Overcrowding, not effectively masking up, and careless attitude by the public have all contributed to the second wave.
Pandemic fatigue had set in with people fed up of staying indoors and lack of socializing. This has taken a toll on the mental health of the population leading to spread of the virus. A new variant more infectious than before has also contributed to this surge in infections.
So, what can we do to help control this wave?
We have to realize that we all are going to get infected sooner or later. The whole purpose for which we are all striving is to allow the infection to spread in a gradual and controlled manner. In this way, the healthcare system has the resources to treat the admitted patients properly and save lives. Only 5 percent of the infected population land in the ICU. But, this would be a big number if everyone gets admitted at the same time!
Many eastern countries like Japan, and Singapore have controlled infections to a large extent. This is because the population is responsible, disciplined and understands the science behind sanitizing, masking, and social distancing. So, we have to do just that, follow COVID norms. It is not rocket science and does not cost money. Any day better than lockdowns, right?
And the next most important thing – vaccines! Have we not been vaccinating our children from birth? Then why are we adults hesitant?
Let us all get vaccinated and put an end to this pandemic!
Dr. Uma Rao is a practicing pediatrician in Bangalore for the past 30 years, Her special interest is in adolescent health. She is a voluntary doctor in Youth for Seva, Doctors for Seva group, and at Project StepOne.