|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 134-135
What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us?
Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi, India
|Date of Submission||01-Jul-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||08-Jul-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||05-Aug-2020|
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi - 110 076
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Vaishya R. What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us?. Apollo Med 2020;17:134-5
“A seed grows with no sound, but a tree falls with huge noise. Destruction has noise, but creation is quiet.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic, which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Although this outbreak was first identified in Wuhan (China), sometimes in December 2019, since then, it has spread worldwide affecting around 200 countries [Figure 1]. Ironically, it has not discriminated between the societies, countries, and affluence of people. More than 10 million reported infections and half million deaths had been recorded globally related to it, with an overall mortality of around 5%. In India, the total number of infected cases is on the rise and might take some more time before reaching a peak and the flattening of the pandemic curve. Until now, there has been no preventive vaccine or curative treatment available for it. However, the research and clinical trials in this regard have been happening in various countries at an extraordinary pace, and we expect to have a breakthrough soon. Until then, various preventive measures have remained the cornerstone of prevention of this highly contagious disease. It can be achieved by maintaining good personal hygiene, frequent hand washing and sanitization, social distancing, using face masks, monitoring, and self-isolation, for the people who are suspected of having acquired this infection.
|Figure 1: Global spread of COVID-19 pandemic (darker color indicates more infections)|
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The impacts of COVID-19 in daily life are extensive and have far-reaching consequences, as these are not only restricted to health but also apply to the economy and social lives of people. This pandemic has not only disrupted but also halted the social lives of most people. Still, it has also caused a severe economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the great depression. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the health-care industry by surprise and a sense of helplessness and unpreparedness to deal with it. It has triggered an urgent requirement and demand for increasing the capacity of existing beds for infected patients and the need for intensive care beds and medical professionals to deal with sick patients. The need for increased testing of Coronovirus has also been escalated at an astonishing speed. The provisions for isolation bed and quarantine facilities have also been established at a phenomenal speed.
The health-care workers (HCW) are deployed to serve the needy patients, not only from the medical specialties but also are deployed to look after COVID patients in the hospitals. This HCW includes doctors, nurses, technicians, and other paramedical staff, who are labeled as “COVID-Warriors” but unfortunately have faced the violence of the patients' relatives and social boycott in their neighborhoods, at some places. The HCWs are also at a much higher risk of acquiring COVID-19 from the place of their work, making them unavailable to serve people in need and also spreading the infection to their near and dear ones. The health-care industry has also suffered huge losses due to a drastic reduction in the number of patients attending the hospitals for their treatment. The international patients' workload has come down to zero because of international travel restrictions.
Due to sudden surge in the demand of various health-care-related products used in the management of COVID, there has been challenges and shortage in the availability of these products due to capacity limitations in the standard supply chains. During the pandemic, all the routine, planned and nonurgent medical treatment of the patients have been halted to prioritize the COVID patients and to prevent the others from acquiring this infection. Therefore, several other infectious and noninfectious diseases have taken a beating on this front. The patient suffering from noncommunicable diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancers have been largely ignored or undertreated during this time and postpandemic, we may see a volcano of these patients to manage, in more complex form.
The virtual consultations by telemedicine have emerged to be an important bridge between the patients and the health-care provider, in recent times. Due to social distancing, wearing masks, and limited verbal interactions with the patient during face-to-face consultations, the patientdoctor relationship would be severely impacted, leading to under-satisfaction and increasing complaints of the patients.
The pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to the near to total closures of schools, universities, and colleges, including the medical colleges. COVID-19 is likely to create a long-term scar in the minds, and future professional lives of young medical graduates being trained in the corona era. This pandemic is likely to alter the perception of several 'under-rated' branches-like community medicine, entomology, and virology. The postgraduate teaching and training have suffered extensively and thus, the quality of specialists likely to exit from it may not be confident and competent enough to provide excellent health-care-related to their specialty.
We have heard the loud noise of destruction. It is time to regroup and create things quietly, and the tectonic shifts are bound to happen. Once COVID-19 is under control, we need to sit together to understand the psychological and professional impact of the pandemic on health-care and medical education. Healthcare is in dire need of more investments worldwide and especially in underdeveloped and developing countries, where is minuscule to the Gross Domestic Product, like in India. The focus of the health-care industry and the governments should see a paradigm change from the treatment to preventive medicine. This pandemic has taught us bitterly that we need to develop infrastructure and strategies do deal with the future epidemics and pandemics much more efficiently and aggressively. The need for involving several engineering-based innovative and modern technologies is the necessity of this time to combat this pandemic. Various new-generation digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, molecular biology, and Internet of Things are urgently needed to effectively improve the efficiency of the global efforts in epidemic monitoring, virus tracking, prevention, control, treatment, resource allocation, and vaccine development.
A human crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic has also offered some unique opportunities for the health-care sector. It has allowed us to revisit how we should deliver healthcare in the future. Rationalizing and optimizing the available resources during such a crisis are some of the most important lessons learned from this crisis. Despite this crisis, several positives have also come out of it, namely., the effective use of telemedicine, the importance of personal hygiene, and the importance of infection control. The virtual means of teaching, educating, and sharing knowledge has now become popular and acceptable. The research and publications have also seen a significant rise during these difficult times.
“Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage that they force us to think.”
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