Sushruta Health Conclave Of Odisha Bytes & Odisha Sambad: COVID Booster Dose Must To Counter Future Virus, Say Medical Experts

Bhubaneswar: Booster dose of vaccination for COVID would not only protect the people from new variants of the virus but also new virus that may spread in future.

This was the opinion of medical experts including well-known internal medicine specialist Dr Niroj Kumar Mishra, technical spokesperson of Health and Family Welfare department and Head of Department of Medicine, SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack Dr Jayanta Kumar Panda and Head of Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, SUM Hospital Dr Pradeepta Patro at a panel discussion on “Epidemics are here to stay: The way ahead”.

The panel discussion was held at ‘Sushruta: The Health Conclave’, organised by leading digital news platforms Odisha Bytes and Odisha Sambad in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

Speaking on how future wave of cornonavirus would affect the society, Dr Panda said it can be tackled from the lessons we have learnt from the first three waves. He stressed on three Bs (background, behaviour and basics) to face future outbreak.

“How the doctors behaved in the last waves can help them face future cases also. They went to COVID patients by wearing PP kit, caps, gowns, masks, gloves and other things which are used by surgeons inside operation theatres and doctors in labs. These safeguards should be be followed in future also,” he said.

On Background, Dr Panda said if one has comorbidities like diabetes, blood pressure, heart problems, asthma and  cancer, he must keep it under control. Such people should avoid consumption of liquor, cigarettes and tobacco products that bring down immune system in body and will lead to serious condition in cases of COVID-type infection.

On third B (Basics), he said people should avoid cluster and take precautions in mass gathering and make wearing mask and hand washing a part of life. Besides, sanitisation and social distancing are must. “In case of symptoms like cough and fever, one must consult doctors and go for test. Since high fever has become a common complaint in fourth wave compared to other symptoms, one must be careful in this regard,” he added.

“Immune reproduction after vaccination has been strengthened and we must try to keep it that way by adopting healthy practices to face any viral infection like monekypox that is threatening to spread in the world,” Dr Panda said.

Though there has been no high mortality in Odisha in the last wave, people must follow the guidelines for at least one more month. “There is nothing to be alarmed. But we should be careful about our behaviour to protect our families, relatives and the society at large till the virus is completely eradicated from the world,” Dr Panda said.

Dr Pradeepta Patro stressed on the booster dose of the COVID vaccination as it seems to have been neglected by the people in India. It may be due to the fact that they think they are immune to the infection.

In this regard, he pointed out that 1.9 billion vaccination doses have been administered against only 44 million booster/precaution doses. “We must take precaution doses within 6 months as per Cetral government guidelines. Because those vaccines have expiry dates,” he added.

“It is wrong idea that one develops immune system against the virus after taking first two doses. All must take the booster dose in time. Because the anti-bodies cannot protect you from new virus,” he said.

On being asked by senior journalist Sandeep Sahu, who was the panel moderator, whether public participation in the Rath Yatra in Puri should have been avoided, Dr Patra said the people cannot be kept in isolation or under restrictions for a long period.

“It is part of our culture and we cannot avoid it. But, we should follow minimum safeguards like wearing faces masks, washing hands and sanitisation to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Besides, mass vaccination is a must to prevent the pandemic from becoming alarming as no government can control the behavior of people or prevent them from following social practices,” he added.

A Conspiracy?

On being asked whether the projection of the intensity of the pandemic was a conspiracy of pharmaceutical industry as suspected by a section of people, Dr Niroj Kumar Mishra said it is not at all true. In fact, it was more devastating than what was revealed to the world. Real toll due to the disease was three times more than what was informed to the world, according to WHO reports.

“When I was checking the patients at the time, we had to discharge one patient once he got slight improvement so that other patients can be given the bed and treated. There was constant flow of the patients. The situation was really alarming,” he said.

“The death, suffering and helplessness of patients were frightening. Besides, we were also afraid of getting infected,” he added.

Since medicine and injection supply was taken over by government, there was no short supply or black-marketing or disruption. It was definitely not a conspiracy of pharma companies, Dr Mishra asserted.

Future preparedness

Dr Panda said, “When COVID broke out for first time, we were not prepared in terms of infrastructure, medicines and manpower. There was acute scarcity of oxygen in second wave. However we came over the problems.”

Thanking the prompt and necessary steps taken by the state government so that the pandemic could be kept under control, he said, “The lessons from the last two years would keep us prepared to face in case of outbreak of any new virus in future.”

He further said, “When there were natural calamities like cyclone and floods, Odisha was criticised for its inept handling. But now Odisha stands as a role model in facing those calamities in the world. The experience of COVID will also guide us to face future pandemics.”

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