Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has said that while the whole world was eagerly waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine, it was important that a VIP category was not created in India for its delivery. He said corona warriors and vulnerable citizens should be on top of the priority list for vaccine administration, which should not be “political” in nature.
“There should be no VIP or non-VIP category for vaccine delivery. Everyone is equal and everyone’s life is important. We should vaccinate corona warriors first so that they can serve the infected with greater confidence and vulnerable citizens should maybe come next in priority, followed by people with comorbidities. We should have such categories which are technical in nature rather than political in nature,” said Kejriwal while making it clear that the vaccination strategy perhaps will be drawn by the Centre at a national level.
He made the comments while in conversation with HT’s executive editor Kunal Pradhan for 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Friday evening.
Commenting on the uncertainties faced in this fight against the coronavirus, the Delhi chief minister added that the disease containment efforts have had to confront unique challenges since the properties of the virus largely remained unknown.
‘No VIPs for vaccine’: Kejriwal’s appeal amid Covid pandemic #HTLS2020
Citing an important example, he said Sero surveys conducted in the capital had thrown up findings showing people with Covid-19 antibodies– considered a measure of disease prevalence– have decreased over time. He said experts are now saying that Covid antibodies subside or die after some time in recovered patients.
“The Sero surveys being conducted now reveal a lesser percentage of people with Covid-19 antibodies. It is a very surprising finding. Doctors are now claiming that people lose antibodies after a couple of months of their recovery. No one was aware of this character of Covid earlier.”
The results of the fourth round of sero surveys show that 25.5% of the approximately 15,000 people tested in the capital possessed Covid-19 antibodies. The tests were carried out in the third week of October. The results are near-identical to those of the third round, covering around 17,000 people, conducted in the first week of September, which showed that antibodies were present in 25.1% of the people surveyed. The second round (around 15,000 were tested in August) showed that 29.1% of the people surveyed had antibodies. And the first round, in late June and early July, found them in 22.6% of the 21,000 people surveyed.
Kejriwal, however, said that as of now, there was no evidence that people were getting infected twice. He added that experts don’t know if cured people can get re-infected after they lose their antibodies.
“Corona was a new virus for the whole world, while some said it lasts for 10 days; others said 14 days. Even now, people don’t understand it very well. We see mild cases without symptoms and on the other hand, there are several such patients, who develop a patch in their lungs due to the disease, which lasts more than four months,” he said.
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Kejriwal said that the high infection rate of the disease was its most challenging aspect.
“The infection rate of this disease is most challenging. This disease spreads so quickly that if you are not on your toes all day then suddenly you find that your structure collapses,” the CM said.
He said they learnt from the experiences worldwide to realise that the health infrastructure would easily crumble if all Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, which is where the concept of home isolation proved to be a big breakthrough in Covid-19 disease management.
“If you do not manage the spread of the disease and treatment of patients well then the situation will turn explosive. We saw examples of several countries and realised that if all these patients came to our hospitals then our hospitals will not be able to cater,” he said and added that home isolation strategy also helped in reducing the number of deaths.
He also said that the nationwide lockdown was imposed at the right time and it gave time to governments to prepare the health infrastructure to deal with Covid-19.
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He also credited the so-called Delhi Model—testing, tracing, monitoring–touted as one of the best for Covid-19 containment.
“The main components of the Delhi model survive even today. We have been able to control the disease due to the same principles. Despite 8,593 Covid-19 cases seen on November 11 in Delhi, if we are able to cope with the number of beds and ICU units (that we have available) then it shows that the fundamentals of that Delhi model are still working,” he said.
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Kejriwal also ruled out any complacency in government’s approach despite pressure from different quarters that couldn’t foresee the return of waves of the disease to the capital.