Mon. Jun 21st, 2021

Paediatric Infrastructure: Need of the Hour to Face Third Wave-Dr V Ravi

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Bengaluru,08 June(HS): While the country is literally struggling in managing to face the challenges thrown open up by the multiple variants of the mutated Covid-19 virus, health experts are pressing to gear up the paediatric health infrastructure in order to withstand the onslaught of the Third Wave.

Dr V Ravi, renowned virologist popularly well-known as Virus Ravi or NIMHANS Ravi is categorical: The size of the Third wave is much small. As India is a huge country with 30 crore children we need to panic about the health care facilities, infrastructure and paediatric ventilation…
…Resumption of schools or interruption should be the subjects we should start discussing now. Since schools are super spreading venues for the virus, this is high time we begin to discuss issues pertaining to the subject at least now, he warns.
We are amidst the second wave. But we cannot tend to forget the grave fact that already 2,500 kids were killed in Brazil. Taking cognisance of the Third wave with less magnitude and even assuming only 1-5 per cent of the population is affected, it means 1.5 crore children. Estimating 10 per cent of them require hospitalisation means 15 lakh admissions and hoping 10 per cent ventilation will come up to 1.5 lakhs. By and large, there could be some paediatric care available in urban centres and district headquarters. But what sort of capacity in comparison to the requirements while there need not be any mention about the facilities available to treat children in the rural and remote places, revealed Dr V Ravi.
At the same time, he also took time to have a glance at the GDP deployment to different sectors. About 40 per cent of the GDP can be divested to Defence whereas the investment on healthcare-related GDP is a dismal 2-3 per cent! Why are we not enhancing the proportion to health care infrastructure, he wondered.
Right Approach in Vaccination: Dr V Ravi is for all praises to the efforts of the Union Government in vaccination: First of all it’s good we announced vaccination during January in a systematic way. The health workers were the primary focus followed by people above the age of 60 years and likewise later. Due to an unexpected surge in infections, there was a sudden demand from the initial hesitant takers. The real challenge became wide open from 01 May onward…
…Now there have been accusations against the government for shortage in the doses. Yes, availability is the present challenge. At the same time, we must also remember that it is not possible to cater to two doses even if you approach manufacturers globally. Millions of doses are not available on an urgent basis and we’ll only have to ramp up production immediately, he suggests.
Vaccines not like Tablets to Manufacture in Huge Quantities Overnight: Dr V Ravi explained in length the challenges involved in the production of vaccines. Presently Five types of vaccines are at various stages of human trials. Maybe after six months down the line, we may be in a conducive position with many more types of vaccines. Till then, we need to manage with Covishield and Covaxin. Along with Sputnik, which has started arriving now and all these three types of vaccines may last for another three months. By August, five companies that have tied up with Russia will enable Eight million doses in India…
…What’s the point in criticising the Government when vaccines are not available? They are not like tablets to be manufactured overnight in factories. These things will take time for three months as it’s a biological process. No doubt, till then the demand will be huge, he fears.
Global Tenders by Union Government Better: Thanks to the alarming proportion of vaccine shortage, many state governments have called for global tenders. But Dr V Ravi feels: It would be a better idea if the Union Government takes up the exercise of collecting the requirement of individual states. This will ensure a better deal rather than multiple players on the scene vying with the rates. By doing so Government of India will be in a better bargaining position ultimately benefitting the states and the country as a whole.
100 Per cent Not Possible; 60-70% is Great: Making a note on the 3rd wave variant surge in the UK, Dr V Ravi emphasis the inevitability of vaccination to bring down the cases. For 15-20 days we are doing well. People are willing to take up vaccinations. However, there’s a challenge in reaching out to the rural areas, tribal pockets and slums. We need to go there…
…Probably a hundred per cent vaccination is not possible. Maybe by yearend, we may reach up to 40-50 per cent. At the most 60-70 per cent is great. But 100 per cent is not possible, he rules out.
Safety depends on People and not the Government: Dr V.Ravi, dwelling on the present ongoings didn’t think twice to hurl brickbats on people at the helm of affairs for the mess they have created in the country. He asserted: We should have activity without crowding. Let there be parties but not in big numbers. Testing should not come down while weekend curfew and night curfew should be continued. If people behave responsibly, lockdown is not required. People think taking a shot will absolve them of everything! Till 1-1.5 years and until the vaccination is over, people should realise that safety is dependent upon themselves instead of the Government…
…When Maharashtra was on fire and burning five states were going for polling! Can elections, Kumbh Mela and mass crowding events not be stalled during a pandemic? If you notice sparks in one state how can you choose to ignore the same? The same sparks are enough in igniting to engulf the rest of the country like a wildfire making it too difficult to extinguish. Who said elections are necessary? While the whole country was turmoiled with the pandemic Panchayat polls were in full swing in Uttar Pradesh. Due to these factors, the virus has spread much faster than required…
…The way ahead no doubt is tough, but we’ll have to keep going, trying, signed off Dr V Ravi.