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Community Spread is the Need of the Hour

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Author: DR. N K VENKATARAMANA, Senior Consultant

When I long for community spread, it is not the spread of the virus, but the awareness and responsibility among societies. We are aware that the whole world is infected with the coronavirus causing the pandemic. Many measures were surmounted and surpassed by the virus, causing a devastating effect overall. The world has gone through many surprises, opinions, misbeliefs, and propaganda. In the bargain, the real information, processes including science, got submerged. Many started advocating measures that were not validated. Many advocators and politicians took casual attitudes till they themselves got affected. For the first time, this pandemic happened in the era of digital and social media. So the information galore shook the world more than it was required.

The flood of information, significant part unscreened, unvalidated, created another panic that also spread like another pandemic. In the bargain, society got divided into many parts. The real science took a back seat. Preparedness went haywire in a sense without following the sequence based on true knowledge. As a result, everyone ended up learning from their mistakes, which became costlier than anticipated. Rather we should have learned from everyone’s experience as well as from their mistakes. This path exhausted all the resources failing all the medical, economic as well as political resources. In reality, a lot got understood by experience and knowledge sharing, yet a significant part about the virus behavior still remains in the dark.

The origin of the coronavirus itself is a huge controversy, whether spontaneous or engineered. The calamity, either natural or man-made, is debatable. The effects and impact of the virus on human health, both in the acute and long-term phases, are yet to be understood. Initial experience that it affects only the respiratory system proved false. Many myths that children are spared, that once infected and recovered, they become immune, other organs are not affected, and become baseless with time. The pattern of spread itself became a mystery, but the fact remains that the spread is aggressive among humans.

We now know that it can affect every organ in the body, leading to strokes, brain hemorrhage, heart attack, kidney failure, bone marrow failure, an unexplained systemic inflammatory syndrome in children, and gradually becoming unraveled. Recent evidence shows that the immune system can get suppressed by the infection. This explains why the antibody response is poor, plasma therapy is ineffective, and reinfections and the prevalent second wave of infection that is being witnessed among many countries in Europe. It could possibly be due to the rapid mutations which these viruses are capable of. This can pose an equal challenge for the discovery of the vaccine for cancer patients as well as drugs.

It is interesting to note that this coronavirus cannot survive outside the human body for long. Hence the virus has evolved enough to have human-to-human transmission. Therefore two possible mechanisms of community spread can occur. When the virus kills an individual, all the viruses inside also die if a proper disposal system is adopted. This threat can make the viruses mutate and become less aggressive to adapt and survive as parasites in humans for long. Alternatively, if they don’t find a suitable host, they might perish. The first option is in the hands of the virus, and we can’t influence the process. The second one is in our hands. Hence, it is essential to follow measures like wearing a mask, talking softly and only when needed, and maintaining sufficient distance between individuals can reduce the viral load in the environment, allowing the virus’s natural death.

Unfortunately, due to insufficient awareness, lack of faith, frustration, and ignorance, we are defying science and helping the pandemic. People are exhibiting extreme behavior with overconfidence, breaking all the rules, and displaying total panic once they become infected. If a significant majority gets at least partial immunity in the community, then the virus has to search and find one susceptible and suitable individual for its survival.

By simply following preventive measures and physical distancing during covid-19 we can win over the situation of community spread till we find a better solution. Till then, every citizen must be disciplined unsupervised and spread this awareness by educating the others and neighbors to a successful goal. So we need to spread this awareness and also take the responsibility of supervising others diligently. This, the true community spread can lead to the cessation of the pandemic.