Skip to main content

Indian strategy on Covid-19 is like 'treating' a wart in a patient with disease of the heart

By Dr Amitav Banerjee*

Community diagnosis in public health is similar to the role of clinical diagnosis when treating an individual patient. In practice of clinical medicine, one does not get down first to treating a wart on the leg of a patient who has come to the hospital with severe chest pain suggestive of a heart attack. 
One surely does not resort to such stupidity while practicing clinical medicine. However, in the present pandemic such blunders are being committed with impunity. The table below shows our major disease burden based on incidence and deaths, the proper community diagnosis.[Table 1].
Compared to the community diagnosis of the Indian population as seen in Table 1 the impact of Covid-19 particularly in young Indians and children is negligible as shown in Table 2.
Basic public health principle demands that resources should be used to control diseases with high death rates and morbidity. For this proper monitoring and surveillance to generate good data is essential, which is lacking for our major killer diseases of childhood.
On the contrary, we are blindly spending resources for RT-PCR and contact tracing for Covid-19, an exercise in an extravagant waste of scarce resources and on a disease, which rarely kills young people. Moreover, once community transmission is established, test, trace and isolate is futile. 
The 4th round of serosurvey conducted in June 2021 by the Indian Council for Medical Reseach ICMR found 67% of seropositivity. From this we can estimate that over 90 crores of Indians have encountered the corona virus. At that time only 3 crores cumulative cases were reported, indicating that hardly 3-4% of cases of Covid-19 could be detected by this cost & resource intensive test, test, isolate policy.
The biggest public health blunder is spending Rs 35,000 crores for mass vaccination for a disease which has more than 99% survival across all age groups, the lowest among all our endemic diseases, while only 20,000 crores have been earmarked for hygiene and sanitation/water supply lack of which kills over 2000 children every day in India due to diarrhoeal and other diseases.
The latest serosurvey from Delhi has revealed that over 80% of people below 18 years already have antibodies against Covid-19 Do we need to develop and roll out vaccines for children? Studies from various parts of the world have established that immunity after natural infection, which the bulk of young people in our country seem to have acquired, is 13 to 27 times more robust than vaccine-induced immunity. 
It would be unethical to risk adverse effects of vaccines particularly in children with Natural Immunity, when both the efficacy and long term side-effects are still unknown.Against this background, it is very imprudent to have allocated Rs 35,000 crores for covid-19 vaccination almost equal to half the amount of Rs 71,269 crore allocated to department of Health and Family Welfare (click here).
The developed countries enjoy the luxury of overcoming most of these infections and may afford to invest heavily to control the novel coronavirus in children. In developing countries like India, on the other hand other prevalent diseases including malnutrition takes a far heavier toll of children and young people, many times more than Covid-19.
Public Health practice keeps encountering difficult choices. It challenges us to be fair and also accountable when making rational decisions. We need reliable data about our own endemic diseases to make such choices. The current model of real-time monitoring of cases and deaths of the novel coronavirus can be more efficiently used for our own major killer diseases. These data would enable rational allocation of health resources to improve the health of our population.
Futile chase of the coronavirus which kills a minuscule proportion of our population will divert resources and attention from our major public health challenges and compromise further our population health.
Currently, our strategy of focusing all on Covid-19 is like treating a wart in a patient with disease of the heart.
---
Professor & Head, Community Medicine, Clinical Epidemiologist, Editor in Chief, Medical Journal Dr DY Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune. Website: https://amitavb.wixsite.com/amitav-banerjee

Comments

Dr Xivananda Priolcar said…
Most 'STUPID' article by a Community Medicine Professor. The comparison is ok in non-pandemic situation. However, during a pandemic, the priority is to manage the patients which are spreading pandemic.
None of the other diseases which he has listed with higher mortality has cost so much damage to mobility and economy of countries across the world. Nowadays it a fashion in India to say that the Govt. policies are wrong. I would say that Indian Govt deserves a praise in managing the situation as best as it could given the developing country resources- and challenges like USA stopping supply of some of the essential components for vaccine to the Indian vaccine manufacture due to pressure from US pharma companies. Covaxin- a fully indigenous Indian made vaccine got WHO approval only in Nov 2021 and Lancet article says that this vaccine provides 70% protection- same technology as Chinese sinopharm vaccine which was approved by WHO many months ago and which has seen to have much lower protection.

UK approved Indian made vaccines only when Indian Govt refused to honour vaccine status of UK citizens when they travelled to India and made them to undergo compulsory quarantine.
Unknown said…
An excellent analysis. Whoever cslled it stupid should be examined fir comprehension. The data is clear. The pandemic hoax and fear mongering should be exposed. The book, Virus Mania, is a great resource for this purpose.
Anonymous said…
wow
Well, the first principle in disaster management is that disaster relief should not lead to more disaster. In this pandemic, this is exactly what occurred. The so called infection control measures caused immense collateral harms and at the same time did not prevent any spread of infection. Hospitals got crowded due to mild and asymptomatic people filling them up in a situation of "medical stampede" due to the chaos and anarchy fueled by population level panic
reena said…
Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your experience.

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.