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India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman*

With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.
While USA, European countries and India were amongst those heavily impacted by Covid-19, China claimed that it had “conquered” Covid-19 virus. As transparency is notoriously absent in countries like China and North Korea, till today, no one believes that these two countries have freed themselves completely from Covid-19 pandemic.
The controversy, whether Covid-19 virus leaked out accidentally from a laboratory in Wuhan or allowed to spread by China, would continue for a long time to come and when the world would one day be out of this Covid-19 crisis, several investigations would be carried out on how the virus really happened. China would be in the centre of such controversies for all time in future.
While Covid-19 has caused great sufferings and death of many thousands of people, another worst impact is that the confidence of the world community that the world could be made a healthy place due to the scientific advancements have been badly shaken.
Of course, due credit should be given to the medical research agencies and pharmaceutical companies for having initiated massive research efforts to find a vaccine to treat Covid-19. However, nearly the ten months of research efforts have not still yielded adequately reliable and positive results.
While the world community is grateful to the medical researchers, the inner feeling amongst the cross section of people is that may be science and research have limitations. Nobody can say anything conclusively on this at this stage.
Now, the upper most question is as to what is in store for the world in 2021. While everyone wishes that science should defeat Covid-19 virus, people are keeping fingers crossed and with feelings of very high anxiety.
In the absence of foolproof treatment, some cosmetic solutions were suggested desperately like wearing the mask, washing hands, drinking hot water, social distancing etc. While the governments helplessly declared lockout to prevent spread of virus and many people observed the guidelines such as wearing masks etc., everyone knows that this cannot be the ultimate solution .
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now become conspicuous due to several of its failures such as not forewarning the world, issuing frequently contradictory statements and it’s poor leadership have been thoroughly exposed. Today, people do not think that WHO can help in finding a solution to outsmart this dreaded virus.
Everyone is just hoping against hope that the calculated risk of using the proposed vaccines would be less and at an acceptable level
With much fanfare, US President Trump claimed that hydroxychloroquine could be the drug of choice to treat the Covid-19. Some scientists agreed and some disagreed and finally the faith in hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus have now been completely lost.
The next drug suggested was Remdesivir drug, which was supported by several scientists and many hospitals started prescribing it for Covid-patients. Now, WHO has issued a statement that remdesivir is no good for treating Covid-19.
Then, plasma treatment was suggested and some scientists agreed and some did not. Now, WHO again issued a statement rejecting plasma treatment.
Thus, medical researchers have been agreeing and disagreeing about the drug for treating Covid-19.
These days, the world has been constantly hearing about the “successful” development of vaccine to treat the virus. One company claims 90% success for it’s vaccine, another one claims 95% success for it’s vaccine and third one claims 70% success.
Meanwhile, Russia started claiming that it has developed vaccine and named it Sputnik, without revealing any detailed data to enable the scientists across the world to verify the claims. Meanwhile, China, as usual, has claimed success in development of vaccines and nobody knows whether it has really done it.
The highest matter of concern about the claimed success of the vaccine is that several acknowledged and prescribed stages for testing the efficacy of the vaccine have been bypassed. While it is known that the clinical trial conducted properly would take around five to six years, success of vaccine have been claimed after conducting trials just for three to four months.
It is very well known that the same drug or vaccine have different levels of positive or adverse impact on people living in different climatic conditions, with different food habits and different age groups. Many people think that announcing success rates for developed vaccines without worldwide clinical trials for adequate periods is not only a calculated risk but could also be termed as an unethical medical claim.
However, given the desperate conditions that the world faces today, nobody wants to raise the shortened clinical trial as an issue and everyone is hoping against hope that the calculated risk of using these vaccines would be less and at an acceptable level.
One has to keep in view the fact that in the last several years, a number of drugs which have been approved and used after elaborate clinical trials have been later on proved to be harmful and banned . World is hoping that the vaccine developed for Covid-19 will not have a similar fate.
The question haunting everyone as the year 2021 will dawn is whether the introduced new vaccines may do more harm than good due to hitherto unknown side effects. People silently wonder whether an unfortunate situation would develop when year 2021 would become the victim of hastily developed vaccines to treat Covid-19, just as the world became victim of Covid-19 in 2020.
The worldwide consensus now appears to be that the crisis is so serious that every possible solution should be tried to save humanity, irrespective of the cost and risk involved.
While the world prays that year 2021 should be free of Covid-19, the world also prays that the developed vaccines should work successfully.
The desperate world is now praying to God to help humanity out of this crisis. Is there any other way?
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, Chennai

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