New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a churn in medical science like never before. In a video interaction with Joyeeta Basu, Editor, The Sunday Guardian, doctors and experts highlighted the impact of Covid on the healthcare and pharma industries across the globe.
Dr Sanjeev Bagai, MD and Chairman of Nephron Clinic, said: “Early March to January 2021 has been devastating not only for global healthcare, but also for the global society, economy, industry and the impact on psyche of the people. From early 2019, we knew that something was going on in China. The society there is extremely opaque and an evil and sinister leadership hid data and fudged numbers and it was a scramble all over the world. India was among first few countries which decoded code of the virus.”
During the session, Dr Bagai also pointed out that despite being ill-prepared, India has done quite well. “From a stage where we never made PPE kits, we are now exporting the kits and N95 masks. Now we know that this infection is airborne, so we have to be careful. The treatment methods and protocols were like shooting arrows in the dark. Most of them didn’t work. The global impact has been huge. But in every adversity lies an opportunity and India did well in coming back to its feet. India has kept its mortality rate extremely low,” Dr. Bagai said.
The pandemic also led to the fastest development of vaccines ever. Vrinda Deval, Managing Partner, GlocalMind, said: “The impact of this virus is incomparable. The pharma industry has been very busy to tackle this. Over 200 products being repurposed and developed independently, multiple vaccines undergoing clinical trials, and over 20 in phase III; this has been the fastest development of vaccines within only nine months. You are looking at an industry that has put all its might into this development.”
As about 40% of India’s population is below the age of 18 years, it was an advantage in the fight against coronavirus. Dr Swapneil Parikh, a practicing physician in Mumbai and co-founder of DIY Health, said: “We have a young population and it is an advantage in this situation. While treating Covid patients, the main thing is supportive therapies and great nursing care. More than the role of the doctors, it is the role of the nurses which is so important. Infection control is also very important.”
Dismissing the claim of coronavirus being man-made, Dr Parikh said: “There is no evidence right now that this is anything other than a natural virus. Viruses do mutate. In 2006, there was a publication which warned about the outbreak of coronavirus in the region where it started. In 2019, there was a scientific publication warning that there will be an outbreak. So, scientists have been warning about this for a long time.”
He also said that a more transmissible virus that can kill a few people is far more dangerous in the long run than a virus that is inherently more lethal, but less transmissible.
The world also witnessed several trends concerning innovation and development due to the pandemic. Dr Deval said: “The first trend was digital health like virtual health and biometric monitoring. The second trend was home care, whether it was blood transfusion, testing, sample collection. Another trend is artificial intelligence in health. In India, we saw an enhancement in electronic medical recording. This was a trend as well as the need of the hour. We also saw other trends like cashless transactions and partnerships.”
As a lot of people are questioning the effectiveness of the vaccines, Deval said: “Some of the questions that are coming out are: the vaccine has come so quickly, is it safe? Prioritizing the Covid vaccine, over 100,000 clinical trials by May, the world came together and made commitments for this creation of vaccine and massive collaboration across the globe led to this efficiency. We need to keep in mind that this had the might of a lot of people, a lot of funding, and it was a global effort to bring these vaccines.”