I was involved in a discussion on a community WhatsApp group wherein in my response to a particular post, I came across as very angry and as if I had to prove a point to someone who put up wrong facts regarding the COVID situation in India.
He was wrong on 2 facts – 1) the percentage of people immunized in India.- He said India had immunized <2% people 2) the health minister had suggested using cow urine as treatment for COVID.
Despite requests from respected people to not extend the subject, I felt compelled to show that his facts were wrong. Some felt that I took things personally.
My response later to the group (had intended to send it but did not)
For most people in this group, this lockdown from 24th to 26th April 2021 might have seemed just like a holiday with home confinement. Unfortunately, for me it wasn’t.
As soon as the news of community transmission in Perth came about. I had to go and set up COVID testing clinic. My colleague in Alexander Heights and I saw close to 140 patients who came for COVID testing. We took the swabs and many times, patients coughed right into us. Even if 1 patient were to be positive, we are putting ourselves at risk of getting infected and potentially passing on the infection to our families. (Some people might say we have the PPE, you will be protected- yes of course, we have the PPE, but anyone who hasn’t worn a N95 mask and a gown, I suggest you wear it for 10 minutes. You will see how it will be to work for few hrs. with the PPE on)
Many medical professionals like us have been at the forefront of fighting COVID. In fact, many have died.
COVID has personally affected me. My parents were due to fly in March 2020 and just a few days prior, a person with symptoms suggestive of COVID coughed on me and I had to self-isolate for 5-7 days until he had his test and came back negative. By the time, his results came, I was quite wary about the fact that if they come, I might pass it on to them here. If I was not a frontline worker, I would have advised them to come. Those days, India seemed to be a safer place for COVID. I narrowly missed the deadline before the borders closed and hence they did not travel. 15 months later (the longest in my life I have spent without seeing my parents) I still am not sure when they will see their grandkids who are growing fast. In fact, my loss is minimal compared to others. I have seen many friends who tragically lost their loved ones in India and haven’t even had a chance to go for the funerals.
Seeing that it has affected us all so much, whenever I see people talking about COVID lightly or ridiculing the vaccines, it pains me. In fact, if the skepticism about vaccines is especially driven by selfish motives like politics or due to narrow hatred for the government, I feel incensed.
The discussion in the forum might seem frivolous for the outsider- someone might think what difference it makes if the percentage of vaccination was 2% or 8%. . Someone might say – what difference does it make if he says that the health minister was supporting some traditional methods which have no scientific basis.
On the ground however, both the issues do make a huge difference. People generally have a herd mentality. If 2 people are doing something, one may not be interested in doing the same thing but if 8 people are doing something, they will get interested in doing the same thing.
Especially with respect to vaccination, we need more and more people to get motivated to get vaccinated .Only with herd mentality, will we be able to get herd immunity. So if someone blatantly and wrongly says that only 2% have been vaccinated, it might negatively work on the psyche of some people and that might demotivate them for vaccination. Hence the need for that wrong fact to be refuted and corrected.
Also, if someone makes the health minister look ridiculous, and if it affects such that somewhere in the subconscious, one believes that he was backing unscientific methods, how are they going to be convinced by him when he says it is better to get immunized.
If due to any one of these reasons, someone gets demotivated and doesn’t get the vaccine, And gets COVID only because he is not immunized and comes to see me or my Indian colleague.. And we get it…..
Yes, it is indeed very personal.