We need some good news


We are tired of the overdose of Covidology 24/7, as if there was nothing good or else happening

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

A few days ago when I had gone to the clinic to see an emergency case, I overheard two nurses speaking.

Ine fatigue avec sa ralenti-ralenti la!’ – ‘tired with this lockdown!’, said one of them, and as I was walking in their direction they realized that I had heard them and we burst out laughing. I have known and worked with them for so long that we are like family, and I could not help join in the conversation.

Taler zot pou dire ine fatigue avec sa galouper-galouper la!’‘soon you will be saying tired with this running about!’

Pandemic fatigue. Photo – gracemed.org

And I added, ‘that’s how we human beings are isn’t it, we can neither stay put for long nor be in the mad rush all the time.’ ‘So’, I continued, ‘better to enjoy the ralenti for the time being!’

Everybody all over the world is tired with everything that has to do with Covid-19 because like the mighty sea, it has been battering us with wave after wave that have together dumbed down the world economy more than they have lifted our spirits. Pushing us into isolation, forcing us not to touch each other, the most basic affective need that we can have – also an evolutionary survival mechanism – and that starts as soon as we come out of the womb.

‘Covid, you are so cruel!’

‘Who, me? Look at you and look at me. I can’t even see you. You know what you’re doing. I don’t even know what it is to know. I am so tiny that I am invisible to your naked eye. I am just carried from lung cell to lung cell depending on what you do with yourselves. For me that’s all there is really. The rest is up to you, for I have no way of knowing what is happening to you, see?’

And so we say Covid fatigue, or pandemic fatigue, has set in. We want to get out of the lockdown, and jump back into our routine – of which we will soon also tire and seek to jump out of. The yo-yo life, we like it that way. For all of us there is no other way.

We are tired of the overdose of Covidology 24/7, as if there was nothing good or else happening.

Fortunately there is. To lift our sombre mood, let us start with Covid itself. Scientists were able to identify its genetic structure and the part of it that codes or triggers the production of the now notorious spike protein by which it attaches to lung cells very quickly after its first manifestation in China. In less than a year they started working on dozens of vaccine candidates. In just one year they came up with vaccines that had reached phase 2 and 3 trials, and reputed vaccine manufacturers began to produce them by the millions.

Better still, vaccination programmes have already rolled out in several countries. The world’s largest vaccine producer, India, showed its generosity by launching a ‘Vaccine Maitri’ or vaccine friendship project. It is a humanitarian initiative of the Indian government to provide made in India vaccines to other countries around the world, starting since January 20, 2021. Nearly 60 million doses of Covishield and Covaxin have gone different countries, much of it as gifts by which Mauritius has also benefited, allowing us to launch our vaccination campaign.

Doctors aided with medical researchers are devising better treatments based on deeper understanding of the virus and the nitty-gritty or mechanisms of how it produces its effects on the various parts of the human body.

The new variants that appeared seem to be not all that bad overall: they may be more transmissible, but they are causing less severe disease and less mortality. As in India, for example, where they are to a large extent responsible for the second wave in Maharashtra and the southern states. Comparatively lesser numbers of patients therefore need admission, diminishing the risk of overwhelming the health system – though this is inevitably happening in some other countries. France, for example, where patients needing ICU care are having to be flown to Belgium or to Germany – which itself may be moving towards a second lockdown. But England, on the contrary, with nearly half of its population vaccinated, is beginning a phased opening up as from Thursday next as a prelude to Easter celebrations. This was announced by PM Boris Johnson, almost petulant when he added he is going to go down to the pub to have a beer.

Pity that he is visiting India only later this year, otherwise he would surely have joined in the holi celebrations that are a riot of colours and unbounded joy – that we are missing here! – and that is always so full of energy and vigour. For all we know, as I watch the merriment out there the Covid virus might be dancing too. Perhaps it will get drunk with the cold thandai, the traditional refreshing drink served on this occasion, prepared with milk and a lot of dry fruits, and a dose of bhang. I wish I were there – nostalgia!

Covid, like flu, looks set to be family. And like family, with whims and fancies, moods, and ups and downs. Impossible to get rid of family, isn’t it?

More good news: the container ship weighing 225000 tons that had blocked traffic in the Suez Canal by being stuck obliquely across it has now been refloated, and the canal authorities have said that, working 24/7, they will be able to clear the line of ships awaiting in three and a half days. It had been feared that the refloating would take weeks, and pessimistic figures about the world economy had already started to be projected. Human ingenuity did the trick. Kudos to ourselves then!

Life will go on, regardless. Cheers to that.

* Published in print edition on 30 March 2021

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