Coping with today, planning for tomorrow 

#GS2 #Governance #Pandemic  

While we stay resilient and optimistic, we must take this opportunity to prepare for a post-COVID-19 economy 

  • Even though the PCR test is currently considered the gold standard, it has only 60-70% sensitivity in picking up the infection.   
  • Up to 10% of patients in China and South Korea who were discharged from hospitals after recovering from the infection subsequently tested positive by nasal swab PCR.   
  • Vaccines, if effective, will be a definitive answer to the pandemic. However, vaccines need to undergo safety and efficacy studies in an animal model followed by human volunteers, which will take up to 12-18 months.   

Understanding viral dynamics 

  • We need to understand that the lockdown has helped only to slow down the progression of the infection and has done precious little to eradicate it.   
  • Flattening the curve only gives the healthcare system a breather, to prepare for the onslaught of the virus. The real problems will start when the lockdown ends.  
  • Once the lockdown is lifted and life resumes, there is bound to be a surge in the number of cases, with no indication that the exponential growth of the virus will stop.   
  • The pandemic will end only when over 60% of the population is infected, leading to herd immunity, or if a vaccine is available, both distant options at this time.   
  • Discipline of the community at large, in times like this, is an enormous challenge. Only resilience and perseverance can help.  

Realistic optimism is key 

  • The implications of this crisis vary from financial catastrophe to emotional black holes. One has to be realistic, yet solid in the belief that ‘this too shall pass’.  
  • During a crisis like this, India needs to invest in community education and community participation.   
  • Trust in the government is an important component in any emergency health response. An increased expenditure in a robust public health system is important to building trust and confidence.   
  • The media and the public health system should ensure that the correct messages reach the common man.   
  • We need to temper enthusiasm about treating COVID-19 with wishful therapies and gather evidence by scientific and randomised trials.  

Opportunities for innovation 

  • The temptation to forget COVID-19 and move on will be overwhelming. But India must let not let that happen.   
  • These crises create opportunities for innovation. We need a vision of a post-COVID-19 economy that is not ‘simply a return to normal’.   
  • A new normal can build upon what we have discovered under lockdown, about making a living and living well. Work on an economy that conserves earth resources, avoids future pandemics, and enhances physical and mental well-being.  
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