A scanner darkly

Monday Musing

[ Asok Pillai ]

1 May, 2021

What if we are never able to produce a foolproof vaccine against Covid-19? What if the virus goes on mutating, killing populations in waves, eventually wiping out the whole of humanity? It’s a doomsday movie-like prospect to dwell on, even though it’s true that everyone must die someday.

Is this the beginning of the world’s end, or will our medical scientists race against time and succeed in dealing the death blow to Covid-19? That is the question. Many of us have taken the first shot of Covishield and fully intend to take the next one. But that doesn’t mean we are going to be protected against the virus. We can still contract it, fellows, remember that.

In a conversation in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘Conversations in science’ video programme on www.who.int, Vismita Gupta-Smith asks Dr Katherine O’Brien (their designations are not revealed) some basic questions about Covid vaccination.

Dr O’Brien says that scientists are still learning what the vaccines can do. By now, of course, we know it for a fact that people can and do contract and die of Covid-19 even after being fully vaccinated.

“Those are the reasons why we have to continue the precautions, especially the masking, the physical distancing, the handwashing and not gathering in big groups,” Dr O’Brien says at one point during the interview.

Actually, make these preventive norms a part of your life in the post-Covid world.

Looks like it’s going to last a while.

7 May, 2021

Covid-19 has reached as far as the Mount Everest base camp. In a report he wrote for the BBC News website – ‘Covid cases at Everest base camp raises fears of serious outbreak’ – Navin Sing Khadka, environment correspondent, BBC World Service, says: “Base camp officials said they had received reports of 17 confirmed cases from hospitals in the (Nepal) capital Kathmandu, where a number of climbers have been sent from the base camp and higher camps for treatment.”

Khadka quotes Lukas Furtenbach, team leader of Furtenbach Adventures: “You can hear people coughing everywhere (at the base camp). But this is not just the regular cough that mountaineers catch here. You can make it out that people are in pain and they have other symptoms like fever and body ache.”

17 June, 2021

The latest is that Sherpa settlements in the lap of Mount Everest are reeling from Covid-19 as climbing season ends on the world’s highest peak, according to Al Jazeera. In fact, Nepal is reportedly besieged by Covid-19.

18 June, 2021

We’ve seen two waves, and the third is expected to hit us shortly. So, don’t let you guard down yet.

Let’s hope that we don’t have a dramatically different variant coming into the picture – one deadlier than any previously seen. Therefore, take the vaccine and remember the standard operating procedures. Who knows, we may have to weather harsher times ahead, so it’s better to be prepared. Mask up outdoors, and don’t get too near people. Remember what Modiji said: Davai bhi aur kadai bhi.

20 June, 2021

Arunachal has recorded more deaths in the second wave of Covid-19 (159 and counting) than it had in the first (56). According to State Epidemiologist Dr Lobsang Jampa, a third wave is almost inevitable, given the relaxation of the curfew. And no one knows how the third wave will behave: which age group it’ll largely target, for example, and how severely.

While we’re at it, let’s give a big round of applause for the doctors and frontline workers all over the world. They must be exhausted by now, and yet they toil on in the line of duty. Their fortitude under the cloud of Covid-19 is admirable. They’ve been working non-stop ever since the pandemic began.

We can help them by observing Covid-appropriate behaviour and bringing the transmission down.

But will we?

Nah.

That’s the trouble with a lot of people. They don’t wear their mask properly and don’t observe social distancing. Some don’t bother wearing a mask at all.

Recently, there was a short clip on a social media news channel on Facebook, showing a maskless man who clearly knew his rights as a taxpayer. He was ranting at two cops, telling them that he paid for their salaries –¬† GST, road tax, and such – and that Covid-19 was a hoax being perpetrated to get funds from the WHO.

The man can think far, to be sure, even though he’s thinking in the wrong direction.

26 June. Past midnight.

Covid-19 claimed two more lives in the last two days. The death toll was 165 last night, according to the health department bulletin.

Yet there appears to be a lull in Covid outbreaks these days, even though people continue to die of it at the same time, some in home isolation, some in dedicated Covid hospitals.

Doctors say the trouble is that people don’t get tested as soon as they start feeling the initial symptoms – body ache, fever, tiredness – but wait till they develop severe symptoms like breathing difficulty, chest pain and loss of speech or movement before crying out for doctors. They already have one foot in the grave by then, so to speak.

28 June. 12:25 am.

Nobody wants to die. And dying of Covid-19 is somehow such a sad deal.

No death was reported in Arunachal yesterday, which is good news. But god knows what tomorrow will bring. More deaths? As likely as not. Nobody knows who’s next. Covid-19 has an unpredictable nature, and it chooses its victims at random.

So, be careful.

Cambridge Dictionary provides a fine example of the proverb ‘Better safe than sorry’: “It’s probably nothing more than a headache, but we’ll order a round of tests – better safe than sorry.”

It sits well contextually, although in our case, we cannot order a round of tests but have to go to the nearest hospital to get tested for Covid-19 if we think we’re developing symptoms.

Better safe than sorry. A test in time could save your life (through medical treatment).

Or maybe not.

Covid-19 affects people in surprising ways. Healthy one day, dead the next. We’ve had cases like that. It kills some people and barely affects others, regardless of age or gender. It’s like an invisible ghost haunting the very air we breathe‚Ķ.

Stay focused on surviving.