Second wave of COVID-19- Why is it so bad this time?
Globally, the COVID pandemic continues to rage in different countries. Most countries have gone through this infection in different waves. Since March 2021, the number of infections in India has risen exponentially and we are now in the throes of huge second wave of the infection. Recent reports tell us that we have more than triple the number of infections now daily as we did in September/October last year, when the first wave was its peak; we had around 97,000 infections recorded as the highest daily number and today we have more than 3 lakh cases approx. on a daily basis. And we don’t know yet how high will these numbers go. The health system is overwhelmed. People are dying and sick, there is a lack of hospital beds and oxygen and medical supplies are running perilously low. So how did all this come to be?
There are a number of reasons for this. We seemed to be doing well during late last year and in the early part of this year till February when case numbers had started to decline and there were much fewer deaths. There was general sense of relief that things were improving. What it did do also was to lull people into a sense of complacency. We became less careful, less stringent and meticulous with preventive measures. People gathered in groups, did not maintain social distancing or use masks. We saw a lot of gatherings. The virus had not gone away and all this provided the perfect environment for it to multiply and for the numbers to rise. Before we could understand what had happened, the numbers were rising beyond control.
Coupled with this, the virus had also mutated into newer variants. These mutants have been identified to have more transmissibility and produce more serious effects. Unlike before, where largely serious effects were being seen in the elderly or people with other health issues, now we are seeing infections in the younger population. Children, who were mostly unaffected in the first wave, too have been affected this time. We have also seen that some of the infections are not getting picked up on the RT-PCR tests. This also compounds the problem. All of this has combined to produce a very grim situation – a deadly second wave.
So, what can we do? First of all, anyone who has any symptoms, and these are fairly well known to all by now, should reach out to the doctor immediately. Anyone with fever, cough, body pain, loss of smell or taste, breathlessness, vomiting, diarrhoea, redness in eyes etc. should contact get themselves tested and be in touch with a doctor. We still see people delaying diagnosis, for example, saying it is a mild fever and will settle, and not getting tested or not getting in touch with a doctor. Please do not delay, because, the virus is more infective, more dangerous this time and is producing much more serious effects; no one is spared including young people and children. The earlier one is diagnosed, the earlier treatment can start, the earlier the path to recovery. So please get tested reach out to your doctor.
If you are diagnosed as COVID positive, your doctor will guide you and let you know how serious your condition is – whether you can be treated at home or your will need to be seen in hospital. They will ask for certain tests to be done- these can be blood tests/ chest X-Ray or CT scan of the chest. Please get them done as soon as you can – don’t think- let me wait for a day and see! The condition can deteriorate very rapidly. Your doctors will ask you to keep monitoring your temperature, your oxygen saturation and start you on the right medications for your condition. Very importantly, please do not start any medications by yourself without consulting your doctor. We see a lot of cases where people start medicines by themselves and wait to see if things will improve. It may seem like things are improving, but they can go down very quickly as well- so please be under medical follow up.
At the same time, for the rest of us, please continue with all precautions- Use a mask, wash your hands, stay away from crowded places, stay away from people who have symptoms , even if they are family, and if you have symptoms- please isolate yourself!
Please encourage people to get vaccinated. The Indian Government has introduced 2 vaccines- Covishield and Covaxin for use in the Indian population. Both have demonstrated efficacy in preventing deaths and lessening the severity in infected cases. Everyone above age 45 year is eligible to take the vaccine and from May 1st 2021, all above 18 years of age can get the vaccine. Please take the vaccines if you are eligible. They will definitely help you.
If you have any symptoms / queries, please reach out to us at Dhani Health. Our experienced doctors will guide you through your illness with the right treatment and advice 24/7 over video consultations. We also provide home collections of laboratory investigations and home delivery of medications. We are also running a social initiative where our doctors will be providing free consultations for the next 30 days- so do reach out