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COVID-19 Virus, Vaccine & victory

Prof. Dr. Pashupati Chaudhary

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

The Classical concept is most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that all should practice respiratory etiquette like, by coughing into a flexed elbow.

But due to emergence of various variants of virus, it doesn’t hold true always.

Corona virus is notorious for its transmission from animals to human and given the example of outbreaks of SARS in 2002 and MERS-cov in 2012.

With a trend of corona virus outbreak in the last two decades- first SARS-COV then MERS and now SARS-COV-2 that cause COVID-19 and another outbreak is inevitable in near future.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic took the world especially (politician, policymakers) administrators and general population) by surprise with many still reeling it how dramatically the world has changed but the reality is scientists and global health experts  have been  expecting something like this for years and  warning  the policymakers for long.

The rapid pace at which COVID-19 vaccine have been developed with first made available in less than a year is no doubt an unpredicted achievement.

However, developing any vaccine required resource founding. In recent years this has become scarce or research fund is diverted to other sectors especially in developing countries like Nepal and in comparison with western world; it is just a drop in ocean.

Research funding has often focus on short term goals rather than long term preparedness and despite promising results on universal vaccine, researchers was unable to take it further as funding dried up.

There is famous story of David & Goliath in which David and Goliath confront each other, Goliath with his armor and shield, David with his sling and stones. David won the battle with his sling and stones. So, Question is what gave David victory: he was not afraid, he knew his strength, and he did not ape his foe. He brought a shepherd’s rule to the battlefield and didn’t play by Goliath’s rules

The trick is in not imitating and competing with the strength of developed nations but to find our own strength.

So, Nepal should spend more in health especially in improving health infrastructure & health research and encourage our young health researchers to work in this field

But it’s not vaccines that will stop the pandemic, its vaccination. It must be ensured fair and equitable access to vaccines, and ensure every country receives them and can roll them out to protect their people, starting with the most vulnerable.

After Vaccine came, people feel motivated that this pandemic is about to end and that we are about to be free of this nightmare but this nightmare still hunting.

Now, we are in the fortunate position of having several COVID-19 vaccines in the world. But with the SARS-Covid-19 virus rapidly evolving, there is already growing concern that these vaccines won’t be as effective on some of the new variants of the virus.

In developing & third world countries like Nepal where health infrastructure is poor, health resources scarce, lack of beds in hospital, oxygen producing facilities are minimum, Quarantine or sustainable lockdown can be one of the most important modalities to contain or control virus,

At the same time one must stick to basic human culture or character like wearing masks, hand washing, use of sanitizer, physical or social distancing, no personal or family gathering or events to contain virus

With corona virus, the button line is that because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, never before has there been so much focus on a vaccine for a single disease. It is also vital to build common understanding of the importance of vaccines not just as a response measure but as a tool for epidemic preparedness.

Victory is assured and guaranteed when energy and resources are directed at common public health goal.

* Pashupati Chaudhary: Professor, Department of Orthopaedics (Consultant Orthopaedic and Spine Surgeon) at B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences,Dharan, Nepal.

** Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Asia Live.

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