Published: 07th June 2021
India needs a COVID Vaccination Commission to finish vaccination in no time at all: Dr Ashok Seth
But that's the future. Till now, COVID has been a traumatic experience for the doctors and the helplessness has been eating them inside, said the senior cardiologist
India needs a COVID Vaccination Commission and (if we get that) in no time we can vaccinate 70 per cent of the population just as fast as we conduct polls, said Dr Ashok Seth, Chairman, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and the Chairman of Cardiology Council, Fortis Group of Hospitals while speaking to Senior Journalist and Author Kaveree Bamzai at The New Indian Express' COVID Think Tank.
Dr Seth said that if India can help the entire country vote in a matter of days, it surely can vaccinate people in a few weeks. All it needs is a commission like the Election Commission of India (ECI). "If we can make 70 per cent of the population vote in a period of a few days, it takes less time to get vaccinated as compared to voting, there's less screening, there's no police protection needed and we can have a vaccination centre 500 metres from our home. If we have the 200 crore doses from August then there is no reason why we cannot vaccinate. Why can't we have a COVID Vaccination Commission of India just like the ECI? A one-stop-shop that gets the vaccines from anywhere in the world, decides the cost and figures out the logistics. it's not such a big deal," he said
But that's the future. Till now, COVID has been a traumatic experience for the doctors and the helplessness has been eating them inside, said the senior cardiologist. He said that there are two aspects to what the doctors have experienced. They had to keep up the demeanour to provide the patients and their relatives with hope and courage and also to encourage their juniors, while inside they were dejected. "I think the viciousness of the disease, the surge, its infectivity and the helplessness was an extremely disappointing, rejecting, traumatic and horrifying experience for every doctor. We were fighting it aggressively for the past year and giving it our all but there was no disappointment till the last two months, when we saw people succumbing to it for lack of facilities. There were areas where we wanted to give more, do more but were helpless. That was far more traumatic morally and psychologically than anything we have experienced before. It was alien. We were not trained not to be able to help people. We were like an army without any ammunition and we saw our near and dear ones dying," he added.
This last year has seen a lot of scientific marvels — from vaccines that came out very fast to regular innovations. But even though humankind has prospered when it comes to scientific advancements, a sub-microscopic virus could disrupt everything that has been built over the past centuries and this teaches us that science alone won't cut it, said Dr Seth. "It actually made a lot of people spiritual. That's how we should have lived our lives. We should have been more spiritual rather than believing that science itself had become God. We have to combine science with spirituality, with humility and fragility of our own being and our own living. But we had forgotten all that and combined science with haughtiness and how great human beings are. We need to coexist, first with ourselves and then with everything that we see around us," he added.
Talking about frontline health workers, Dr Seth said that while they are slogging 12-hour shifts in a PPE in this heat, they do not get enough respect. While the leaders, time and again appreciate them and then the public bangs thalis in respect, they use the same sticks as weapons when the doctors fail to save a life. "There was no oxygen, which was not their fault, there were no beds, they still saved two more lives... fewer beds, fewer drugs and yet the ones who got beaten up are doctors or nurses," he added. Dr Seth suggested that more than anything else we need to boost the morale of the healthcare workers to battle the third wave. "We may need beds, oxygen and infrastructure but do you know what we need the most? The morale of the doctors and nurses. If you can build up the morale then you have provided the infrastructure that you need to fight the third wave," he said.
One more thing we need to do in India is to forget petty politics and work together to beat the virus, said Dr Seth. "And this goes for all — political parties, States and the Centre, private and public enterprises. We are at war and we have one enemy and all of us are in this together," he added and said that once we deal with this, we have a few things to keep in mind, "COVID appropriate behaviour has to stay for the next couple of years and let's just believe that that's the way we live. Secondly, we need to vaccinate."