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Data could be used to predict upcoming infection patterns’

: Doctors discuss COVID-19 second wave at the webinar by Kautilya School of Public Policy 

  • “Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence”, states Dr. U.S Vishal Rao, Dean, HealthCare Global Cancer Centre speaking at the Doctor’s Panel hosted under Kautilya’s ‘Let’s Talk Policy’ series
  • COVID appropriate behaviour is essential even after vaccination; resorting to home remedies based on misinformation can only do more harm

Hyderabad, 18 May 2021: As the country strives through the second wave of the pandemic, fear and panic are at play among the public. The battle for survival has put the common man under considerable duress in addition to the information overload on the virus and how to deal with it. Taking the responsibility of educating the masses, Kautilya School of Public Policy, GITAM Deemed to be University, Hyderabad hosted a highly curated “Doctors’ Panel: COVID-19 Challenges and Solution in the Indian Perspective”, part of their ‘Let’s Talk Policy’ series.

The panel consisted of Dr Shahid Jameel, Director, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University; Dr Rommel Tickoo, Associate Director, Max Healthcare and Dr. U. S. Vishal Rao, Dean, HealthCare Global Cancer Centre- moderated by Nidhi Razdan, visiting faculty at Kautilya School of Public Policy and former NDTV 24×7 Executive Editor.

The session was a comprehensive foray into the current Indian healthcare scenario, especially with regards to preparation and handling of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. The panellists spoke at length about all facets of the medical sector and how it is handling the upsurge of patients in the second wave. This included a statistical view of things, where these healthcare experts and practitioners feel data could be used to predict upcoming infection patterns.

Another topic of discussion was individual doctors having to face the brunt of the massive volume of cases while being limited by partial information and a lackluster system to fall back on. There’s also the problem of the general public falling prey to misinformation and resorting to home remedies and even self-medicating themselves with steroidal applications. Such methods end up causing far more harm than good and only complicate the doctor’s already monumental task at hand.

The panel expressed their desire to see a rapid fightback against this second wave on the back of greater availability of the vaccines and the hope that the healthcare system can gradually cope with the large numbers and provide facilities such as oxygen cylinders and ICU beds. With a robust enough system that can support the doctors on-ground, India should be able to get past this second peak with due diligence.

Dr. Shahid Jameel, Director, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University spoke on the various models of Covid peaks, “The thing about peaks is that you only know it when you have passed it. As a biologist and life scientist, my view on models is that all are wrong, but some models are useful. Every model is dependent upon the data that has gone into building the model and the assumptions used to make it. So, keeping that in mind, we hope that the damage will be minimal, and we get over this quickly.”

Commenting on how individual doctors without a robust system cannot do much during this second wave, Dr Rommel Tickoo, Associate Director, Max Healthcare said, “We may have enough information about this pandemic now, we may have enough drugs at our disposal to treat patients, but the healthcare system is stretched thin and healthcare workers are overwhelmed. Even the best healthcare system, anywhere in the world, cannot handle the sheer volume of patients every day. That’s where we’ve been overstressed. It is very unfortunate to see people dying due to lack of beds in hospitals and lack of oxygen, and it is very frustrating to see as a healthcare worker because you can’t really do anything about it. I get calls from my patients and I can treat them, but I can’t help them with getting oxygen and beds – you need a team of people, a well-defined central command to do all this.”

Dr. U. S. Vishal Rao, Dean, HealthCare Global Cancer Centre, on the difficulties doctors face while trying to treat COVID patients with limited information, expressed, “Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence. We are currently at a stage of the pandemic where we do not have all the answers. If you observe the medical sector, we are making the best of what we have. On an international scale, we are talking to global leaders to better understand the guidelines for treatment of the patient but conflicting reports about the same make it difficult for us. At that time, it is ultimately the doctor’s personal judicial reasoning that decides the best course of treatment to save their life. And I think that is what a lot of people are doing on ground – be it through Remdesivir or Plasma treatment, we’re taking a logical look through the evidence currently available and doing the best we can.”

About Mahender Bansal

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