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Views & Reviews

Of Tests and Vaccination In the Covid Battle

By EMN Updated: Jul 04, 2021 10:25 pm

The war against Covid has been a long drawn battle. It has been anything but easy and has shown itself to be of extreme costs in terms of economy, education and lives. The world was caught unprepared. Many lives have been lost. And even as countries limped back to regain composure, unfortunately many have died before any vaccine was available to defend them. Over the course of time, the scientific medical community has gradually learnt the nature of this enemy and warned us time and again how we could prevent its spread by simple measures of wearing mask, washing hands and social distancing.

Over and above that, vaccines have been developed to shield and protect us, should there be any unfortunate incidents of infection despite all preventive measures. Many of the relatives of those who perished certainly would regret that their dear ones could not have the privilege of a vaccine. ‘If only there was a vaccine, perhaps they would still be alive today…’ is a wish they can only sigh in painful despair. We are reminded again of the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’. Just when the virus seems to be decreasing in curve, it has come back in the second wave with more ferocity claiming more lives than ever. And the focus is gradually shifting to the possibility of a third wave.

Lessons from across the world have shown how some countries tactfully fought the Covid crisis. South Korea has shown how intensive testing, contact tracing and isolation could defeat the Covid-19 pandemic. Within two weeks of the Covid crisis created by an unidentified 61- year- old woman referred to as “ Patient 31” who infected the Covid virus to over a 1,000 people through the two worship services she had attended. Following this incident, South Korea promptly started performing the most Covid -19 testing in the world, and implemented the most elaborate contact tracing program than anywhere else. They believed in nipping in the bud and they did.

Another country to reckon with is the rapid vaccination exercise in Israel. Life returned to normalcy in Israel while many other countries were still imposing stricter measures to combat massive upsurge. Over 81% of the population in Israel is aged 16 and above and this age group has been vaccinated. The result has been a drastic reduction in contagions and hospitalisations.

Statistics from various sources across the country and even in our local context have shown that those who are fully vaccinated have a very low mortality and low disease severity. In the initial days, there seemed to be a dearth of testing facility and vaccine shortage. However, thankfully to the Health & Family Welfare Department and the Government of Nagaland, the contact traced testing including random testing and vaccination capability have stepped up. However, to the credit of rumor mongers and misplaced religious fervor, much damage has been done to the well intentioned testing and vaccination efforts.

It is learnt that some villages where Covid clusters exists, the citizens have surprisingly refused to even undergo free random testing, citing lack of symptoms and questioning the reliability of the test, stating that most test results often turn positive. Indeed no test could be 100% accurate but in a highly infectious disease as Covid, it would not be at all sensible to err on the side of safety and not take precautionary measures.

Many people even avoid test for fear that they would turn positive and be quarantined. A positive test is not the end of the world, one has to be strong and courageous, one need not negatively react to a positive Covid test report. The inconvenience of the quarantine is worth if it would prevent the spread causing morbidity and mortality to a family member.  

The same goes for vaccination. There would hardly be any vaccine that is 100% effective, or devoid of adverse effects. That does not serve as a deterrent to vaccination programs across the world and many lives have been saved from various diseases by the specific vaccines. In the crisis of the Covid pandemic, the need of testing and vaccination is not only imperative but acutely urgent not only to avoid community transmission of Covid-19, Covid-19 morbidity and Covid mortality, but also to return to normalcy for overall development of the society.

Despite the lockdown that has helped curbed the spread, to not test and isolate or vaccinate would be to take one step forward and two steps backward. We do not want to be the victims suffering the consequences of being misled by anti vaccine crusader or rumor mongers. It is not unknown whereby anti-vaxxers have taken vaccines even discreetly to protect themselves while misleading many.

However, despite all efforts any democratic authority as in our situation has its own limitations. And it would require individual wisdom to make ‘an informed choice’ after obtaining knowledge and understanding through the various information available on various media platforms. It would require the conscientious individual to differentiate truth from rumors. Civility requires a person to consider the greater health of the society and to not jeopardise another fellow man’s health and life because of one’s prejudices.

It is prayed that it does not require a costly and irreparable loss of live at a personal level to wake us to the reality of the significance and the success of the testing and vaccination in the fight against Covid-19. Where we fail to take the proper measures of wearing mask, frequent hand washing and social distancing in an unguarded moment, our decisive choice to embrace testing and vaccination will make all the difference in our fight against Covid-19.

Kuolachalie Seyie, Trustee Member,
Kezekevi Thehou Ba (KTB),
Nagaland Kohima

By EMN Updated: Jul 04, 2021 10:25:09 pm