COVID Management in Indian Hospitals
Today, I can see that the greatest organizations of the worlds have gone wrong in understanding this COVID pandemic. Some time back, I wrote an op/ed on this called “World War C, Putting the Pandemic in Perspective”, which broadly talked about various philosophies and our understandings from COVID. When we look at India’s graph today, we are currently around about 14 million cases and about 173,000 deaths. We are currently at the crest of the second wave, and we are realizing that the second wave seems to be a little more daunting than the first wave. We had some presumptions when we started the first wave. We thought that there were differences between our States. But sooner or later, we realized that whether it’s the UK, USA, or whether it’s India, we are all much more similar compared to this virus, which is connecting all of us in some strange, biological way.
What we all are understanding is that there may be a third wave, maybe a fourth wave and all the precedents that we have are only 100 years back. We had the early infection stage, the pulmonary phase, and the hyper inflammation stage. Now we have the good, the bad and the ugly. I think to a great extent, the early phase is something that we’ve decided that we can win at home. But the second phase, and the third phase are the troublemakers. When you look at the absolute numbers of COVID patients, it’s the stage two and three, these two groups of Pulmonary and hyper inflammatory phases where there is an increased burden on the healthcare system. There are failures in the healthcare system, there is fatigue in the healthcare system, and that is where we are actually evolving our strategies. What are the potential strategies we’ve had? We’ve had remdesivir, we’ve had chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, we’ve used convalescent plasma, we’ve been using steroids. But we’ve not found the magic bullet on this.
Look at it –a few grams of these viruses brought this world to a standstill. That’s why I thought that this is most aptly called the World War C. Now, this is a new age war. We’ve fought this new war not with soldiers but with doctors, we fought this war not with weapons, but with soaps and sanitizers. We fought this war with social distancing, not close encounters. And the funniest part is, we’ve not only lost the sense of smell, we’ve also lost common sense. And I think that’s the funny part of this pandemic, we’ve actually lost ourselves to misinformation. When I looked at all the global perspectives, I think there are only two bad options we’ve had. Some people have chosen to lose health, and some people have chosen to lose economy. There’s been no good option. At the end of it, this virus has given you a very, very difficult situation. And we’ve seen the psychological impact, the economic impact, and the behavioral impact of this virus, which has been far reaching in the implications.
Now, in India, I feel specifically we were very good at trace, test, and treat. But what we realized later, was what was implicitly important was teamwork and training. That’s when we started synergizing more of our focus into teamwork and training, because we realized we did not have centers of pandemic preparedness. This has blindsided us. We realized the importance of drills and even at government levels, replaying some very key roles now to strengthen our work on teamwork training to ensure that we are able to improve these drills.
I wrote an article called “The Pandemic CEO” on why we need to win this war with a strategy. We cannot win this war by fighting with this virus. One of the most important messages we learned out of this was that we need to win this war at home, not in the hospital. There is going to be a failure of the system if you try in the hospital. That’s where the work of Ayurveda has to be emphasized to understand how we work on the immune system and not the virus. How do we combat this thing, and when I say at home, we need to also address the home within our body.
I still remember the book Mr. Deepak Chopra wrote on super genes, where he actually spoke about the importance of the microbiome. I think we cannot emphasize this any lesser to say how Ayurveda is more of the natural aspect of dealing with the microbial load, which actually controls your genome. If you have to tackle the viral genome, you need to have a good microbiome which has to be somewhere in sync with the nature.
There was a global war that was going on among all the companies to find a vaccine. I’m asking a thought-provoking question to all the panelists here and to the participants. How much attention was paid on therapeutics? We only got a running game to vaccine; there was not much attention paid on therapy across the globe. Therapeutics suffered, so I’m happy that you’re still striving in this, and swimming in this, in this race, and actually leading the front. I believe that what you all have done is against the tide of the vaccine rush. When you look at data, from bench to bedside, it takes 17 years for you to bring something to the market, and you folks have actually pulled off something which I call the Hyperloop, you’ve actually created a Hyperloop, for research in COVID-19. So again, a special shout out to all of you guys. It’s humongous. I want to deeply appreciate this. Because sitting in this ecosystem, I understand how complex it is to navigate through this research, from basic sciences bench work to bringing it to practical research. Mr. Bose, the inventor of the Bose music system, said something very beautiful, “If you think something is impossible, don’t disturb the people who are doing it”. And I think you are the people who are actually trying this task today.