POPULATION IMMUNITY AND COVID19
Viruses have suddenly become the most defining things in our life. In a way, they have started controlling human behaviour and, unfortunately, the life span of so many hapless victims of their invasion.
The human race might now be in a continuous struggle with the viruses and the certainty of life may become a thing of the past. The existing Covid19 pandemic will change the lifestyle forever if it is allowed to stay for a couple of years.
The pre - covid lifestyle might be very difficult to achieve in near future and maybe, never again. This gloomy picture is not my futuristic projection but the stupidity of global leadership indicates this possibility.
The virus may go on mutating as myopic leaders might not be able to see the broader picture because of their egoistic attitude. I, as a frontline clinician against Covid19, see a bleak future for so many families and individuals as the virus go on mutating because some people want to control the seats of power at any cost and this can only be achieved by mobilising hysterical crowds at politico-religious congregations.
But what power? The real power lies with the virus at this point and no worldly armaments can defeat this invisible live particle.
The only power which can neutralize this destructive demon lies within the human body and that one is called active immunity which when acquired by a large percentage of people is termed as population immunity or herd immunity.
We need powerful population immunity because, in a viral invasion like Covid19, our body has to fight on two fronts almost simultaneously. The virus invades the body and causes immense cellular destruction and may even get destroyed in this process.
But, during this short period of 3 to 4 days, large loads of debris of dead tissue become food for opportunistic bacteria and these bacteria, in the case of Covid19, are responsible for the deadly atypical pneumonia.
There is significant damage to the liver and heart as well. All this makes a mighty man just a sitting duck. This is, hence, of paramount importance that the public should know about herd immunity.
Population immunity is achieved when between 60 to 70 per cent population develops antibodies against the virus either by getting infected or by receiving the vaccination.
These 60 to 70 per cent antibody carrying people shall now protect the remaining vulnerable population, mainly the elderly and children. Here, the virus can not spread across people, can not mutate freely and hence becomes subdued.
It may cause sporadic infections but that is always manageable. So, in the case of Covid19, it is the race against time especially in countries like India. The mammoth nation has a history of poor planning and botched up implementation of policies and programmes.
It might take years before a significant population is vaccinated properly and scientifically. As far as my opinion is concerned, I think India will achieve its herd immunity via infection rather than vaccination.
This would be a painful situation and so many lives would be lost prematurely.
The country claims that it has immunised its senior citizens by the first shot of vaccination but has anybody raised the issue of immunosenescence? I’m surprised that specialists other than preventive medicine people are at the forefront giving their biased opinion regarding the success of vaccination but would that save the lives? Would the country be able to achieve what it intends to achieve? The picture presentation of VIPs getting a jab won’t serve the purpose.
Immunosenescence means that older people lose a significant ability to respond to vaccination, their immune system is not as responsive and active as that of children and younger people say below 40 years of age.
The human immune system goes on losing its power to produce antibodies quickly as a person advances in age.
Elderly people need more frequent vaccine shots than children and young adults and, as per some studies, should be vaccinated early in the morning for better immune response. Are these norms being followed? Are these basic scientific observations visible or well-published? It is a pandemic of immense proportion, no doubt, but a botched up program is, in reality, no program.
If India fails in its vaccination program, the human cost might be beyond comprehension as there is a significant risk of third or even fourth wave. Three or four state elections aren’t far away and we all know what our leaders can do.
Then people always remain in denial mode and gather as a crowd on the slightest pretext.
Religious competitiveness has the power to suppress every sane voice. It is high time that people change the way they have been living for decades. The social norms need to change.
The political parties should use television and social media for the election campaign.
The journey to spiritual enlightenment is individual, a crowd gathers just for a hack of it. It is time to accept the power of the virus and our limited options against it. Furthermore, it may appear as a negative commentary but vaccine against Flu viruses can not be as effective as it was against more stable viruses like polio and smallpox and may require more frequent shots at shorter intervals at least initially.
Now the question arises about the availability of so many doses of vaccine in such a short period. Thus, vaccine as a saviour appears to be a difficult goal to achieve as far as India is concerned.
Mask could have been more effective provided worn properly but the way people wear it is laughable. The quality of the mask and methods of wearing it makes the mask a completely useless measure. As a clinician, I’ve stopped placing my hopes on the mask as a containment tool.
My maximum stress is on body distancing and avoidance of crowd formation at all cost. The marriage can be held strictly as an ‘only family’ function, faithful can easily communicate with their Gods at home and media can be easily used as a method of political communication.
All these things are doable and highly cost-effective. Out of all the options available to us, this one can be done immediately and can save thousands of lives. Population immunity alone is capable of taming Covid19, try developing it or be ready to perish.