India’s response to the first wave of COVID 19, which peaked in September 2020, was appreciated all across the world. No one had imagined the havoc wrecked by the second wave, which started around March 2021. The drastic difference between the first wave and the second wave raised many questions. Where did we go wrong? Was our healthcare system caught off guard? Did we let our guards down way too soon?
It is nearly impossible to pinpoint a single factor that leads to such a devastating second wave. However, as we are approaching the peak of the second wave, it is very important to introspect, and realise the mistakes we committed after the second wave so that we do not see a deadly third wave. If history is to be believed, there would definitely be a third wave; however, severity of the third wave would depend on the steps taken by us as a society after the second wave.
In order to understand what can we change for a better future in this pandemic, HealthWire talks to Dr. Manish Vaish, Director – Neurosurgery, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali Ghziaabad. Here’s an excerpt of the interview:
Where did we go wrong?
Our biggest mistake was underestimating our enemy and evidence deprived infodemic. High recovery rate and low mortality among young adults led to false sense of security. However, the most important fact that viruses often mutate for a wider host base was ignored.
The false sense of security was fanned by evidence deprived infodemic on social media. It was claimed that COVID 19 is similar to cold & flu and people should not worry about it. There was a group of people who were advocating for no mask & spreading information that masks are doing more harm than good.
The moment vaccines were introduced, large section of society was condemning their use labelling them as low on efficacy and high on side-effects.
It is important that we learn from the past. We need to spread right knowledge through right mediums & people need to understand that social media is not the place for correct information. If history is to be believed, third wave is inevitable; however, history also tells us that second wave is the most lethal one.
Therefore, we would surely see some more peaks but those won’t be as bad as second one. Vaccination is one of the most important tools in eradicating any pandemic. We are lucky that we have vaccinations in the first year of pandemic itself. Everyone must take vaccine whenever their turn comes and stop believing social media posts.
Was our Healthcare System Caught Off-guard?
No healthcare system in the world was ready for a pandemic and India was no exception. When a lot of people of your country started falling ill with a disease which has no exact treatment, any healthcare system will struggle to address the problem. We saw similar situation in the developed countries like Italy and United States.
No one anticipated the second wave to hit India so hard that oxygen supply would become a challenge. In normal circumstances, all the hospitals have more than the required oxygen; however, COVID made even the largest of hospitals to struggle for oxygen. The question is: Could we prepare for it during first wave? Perhaps yes, if we had anticipated such a ferocious second wave. But no one knew that virus would change drastically to be more infectious and deadlier.
The second wave has already prepared the infrastructure that we would require to fight the third wave. However, medical human resources would be a challenge who are working continuously for past one year to save lives. It is essential that they are supported by people in keeping third wave peaks to lowest.
Did we let our guards down way too soon?
Yes, we did. Though we may not be able to pin point a single cause for the second wave, but letting the guard down way too soon will always remain on top of the causes list. As soon as first wave waned, people returned to their normal routine without COVID appropriate behaviour. Large gatherings become a normal thing and marriage and festival parties were on full swing. Everyone did have mask on their face but people rarely wore masks correctly. Social distancing became a distant dream.
This time no one should let their guard down. Vaccine and COVID appropriate behaviour are the two things that are standing between you and COVID. Don’t ignore these.