|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 184-185
Making preparations for future outbreaks of the pandemic
Harish Gupta, Ajay Kumar Patwa, Satish Kumar
Department of Medicine, KG's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
|Date of Submission||05-Dec-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||22-Jan-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||24-May-2022|
Dr Harish Gupta
Department of Medicine, KG's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Gupta H, Patwa AK, Kumar S. Making preparations for future outbreaks of the pandemic. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2022;15:184-5
“We cannot end this pandemic unless we solve the vaccine crisis. In less than a year, almost 8 billion vaccines have been administered around the world – the largest vaccination campaign in history”-Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, November 29, 2021.
Madhav Prabhu wonders in September–December 2021 issue of the Journal if it is merely about a third wave (of COVID-19 pandemic)? Therein he compares the ongoing pandemic with 1918 Spanish Flu and draws parallels to its different waves then. As nowadays, different Institutes are making different models calculating various metrics about its cost, implications, and morbidity/mortality pattern; such speculations find a mention in the Guest Editorial. Therein the author correctly highlights about poor financial conditions of common citizens which may lead to stress-induced crimes in the second-last paragraph of the Editorial.
While we-as medical expert-are adept to look at the huge challenge posed by the mutant severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 and its effects on deaths and hospitalizations as medical personnel; the reality is that the unprecedented unfolding scenario changed all the aspects of our lives during the past 2 years or so. Therefore, when the author discusses these issues which are usually sidelined or neglected by medical specialists, there is comprehensive illustration of modern-day society marred and battered by the contagion. Lockdowns brought the maximum misery for daily bread-earners who usually do not have savings and trudge their day looking for informal jobs. Moreover, as their data are not entered in a formal register, most of us do not know what is happening in their lives. Some time ago at the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, International Labour Organization released a statement that the pandemic has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable.
Nevertheless, when the pandemic posed the huge challenge for us, our government responded by announcing various relief measures. Due to job losses in the informal sector after announcement of the lockdown, when the unskilled workers returned to their villages, the Government of India sanctioned additional finances for MGNREGS sector. When an unskilled worker wants to do some manual labor, according to law, he is entitled to get a job for a minimum number of days and its renumeration is transferred to his bank account. Increased budgetary allocation in this header ensures that all the dues are paid in time. We will know stabilizing effect of the supportive steps when collecting data about rural households later on. However, what is clear is that when public policies correctly target genuine beneficiaries and provide compensation-for-work, the newly-unemployed workforce has at least something to fall back on and this facility may protect them from having mental stress.
In the same paragraph, the author mentions about inflation (in prices) of essential commodities. Here, we need to realize the double jeopardy, the poor are facing in the pandemic. While the regular jobs are in decline, incomes are falling, and businesses are facing uncertainty and closures; prices of essential commodities are rising and the whole world is facing such calamity. Hence, decreasing income in the era of rising inflation is making it difficult to meet the ends for bare minimum necessities. Moreover, part of the rising inflation is due to rising prices of fuel – petrol, diesel, and cooking gas. In their blog on website of the International Monetary Fund, authors state that (the) surging energy prices may not ease until next year. Author at website of the World Bank too states that there is significant inflation risk from high energy prices. Now Russian invasion by its President Vladimir Putin against Ukraine since Feb 24, 2022 further complicates the picture when the battle lines keep on to drag as the belligerent countries are suppliers of oil, wheat and gas at international trade.
Several authors at the World Bank regularly discuss about the state of the global economy and whether it is on track for strong but uneven growth as COVID-19 still weighs. What is a striking feature of this pandemic is that while small businesses are gradually shutting down due to logistical issues, large corporates dealing in at-home deliveries, IT giants, and app-based and E-commerce industries are earning humongous profits. When a gig worker comes at our doorstep to deliver us a parcel, he takes the risk of getting infected due to contact with several workers on his job but the profit earned by the transaction goes to the owner of the company who resides in his ivory tower and that is risk-free. Therefore, various economists worldwide opine that these wealthy corporates should be taxed more who are gaining windfall dividends while small and medium enterprises should be protected so that they may continue to float around and provide jobs to the masses.
When the author concludes by stating that health of the country and its economy are in intensive care, we need to realize that share market remained bullish in the duration of the pandemic with occasional concerns with the arrival of variants. Nevertheless, principles of equity and justice should guide us on our future path. Ways and means need to be devised to put a square meal at the table of all. While the virus sharpened the already existing inequities between us; for the sake of a better tomorrow, we need to make an equal and just world. Variants fuel the pandemic, is a common knowledge; but they emerge in an atmosphere of marginalization and exclusion, should be realized soon and the divide needs to be obliterated so that fruits of globalization reach all. As Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) used to say that the earth has enough resources to fulfill our needs but not our greed; the pandemic teaches us that all of us are together in the boat. No one is safe until everyone is safe and economic inequality is a breeding ground for variants. We'd make all the efforts to bring everyone at the same footing for our own benefit.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
Prabhu M. COVID-19: Is it merely about the third wave. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2021;14:295-6. [Full text]
Ministry of Rural Development. The Government Allocated Rs. 73,000 Crore for Mgnregs for 2021-22; An Increase of Rs. 11,500 Crore as Compared to the fy 2020-21. 6.51 Crore Persons have been Provided Employment and More than 130.9 Crore Person-Days have been Generated under Mgnregs in 2020-21. More than 25 Lakh Assets have been Created in the Current fy 2021-22 So Far; July 27, 2021. Available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1739616
. [Last accessed on 2022 Dec 05].