Pandemic 2020 - Perspectives - Pankaj Kalra & Dr. Vandana
Pandemic – the most sought-after word in 2020, impacted the humankind in no other way it had been affected since 1919. With globalized and connected world, every day of the year, talks surrounded this word.
Unfortunate were those who lost their lives to the then unknown virus spreading thick and fast and became a known entity across all sectors of society. It did bring a grinding halt to never ending rat race, pom pom and for once world did turn upside down. There was an immediate impact on economy, society and healthcare infrastructure. Suddenly, the most advanced social species Homo sapiens sapiens were forced to live in isolation with another buzzed term Lockdowns!
At family level, the impact was huge. Grandparents were cut-off from their grand kids, parents from their working children, suddenly schools shut, kids are home, and families are home. There is a saying in Mumbai specifically (but applies to all metro cities of India) that house helps are more influential for a family than anything else, and that was proved true when nannies and helpers were gone and families had to manage on their own. Imagine for first time families were seeing each other 24*7. Some enjoyed it and many learnt a practical lesson on human behaviors as it was the first time being together literally! Many learnt how to communicate with their own family. There were certainly challenges. Not everyone in our country has access to the luxury of home office, good internet connection or even multiple air conditioners! In Asian countries, where joint families are a common occurrence, some families did have the advantage of grandparents being around to help with kids and some other chores while parents slogged away at their now remote jobs. In the end, it all seemed to work out!
Talking of economy, the pandemic saw a fall on key industries- travel being one, while sales-based fields job and street corner economy are the others. It also put huge burden on another one- insurance and real estate. According to a report, 60 percent of rentable homes are lying vacant as companies gave employees flexibility to work from anywhere and many decided to relocateback to their native places.
In between, it did expose more advanced economies where despite having access to the infrastructure, the death toll was high. Country leaderships across the globe scrambled to put their
resources in no less way than Pearl Harbor!
Scientific community faced enormous challenges to respond back, with never ending battle between viruses and human scientific endeavors. Public at large wished for vaccine to appear like magic out of nowhere, but for the un-initiated, Vaccines, unlike pharma drugs (excluding biologics), takes longer time to develop due to its complex manufacturing process and inherent limitations to scale up the batch, and understandably the most stringent regulatory norms. So is the case that at a global scale only a handful of vaccines innovators are available. But, as it happened, the scientific community with their knowledge and learning from past experiments and with a quest for pan-earth solutions, saw it as an opportunity. New mRNA-based vaccines which were touted impossible in vaccines world for many years, come as ray of hope with breakthrough announcement of first COVID-19 vaccine targeting current pandemic. It is the triumph of science in its purest sense. When humanity is in danger, brilliant humans come forward to provide key of survival in same way as all the stories and folklore of ‘good’ prevailing over ‘bad. It is also worth mentioning about more Vaccines which are now approved in different markets to aid humankind develop immunity against this virus. To the delight of many, India emerged as a super-power saving the world with its unmatched technology and scalability for developing and manufacturing the life-saving vaccines at large scale!
What another buzzword came out of this Covid aftermath? Immunity!! I have been exposed to the health industry on both sides, ‘sickness’ – which is life saving industry and a person who falls sick gets treated by specialized doctors available and another is ‘wellness’ – which means adopting certain practices which keep lifestyle holistically balanced and away from disease. Traditionally, people have not paid much attention to wellness part, as being considered a nonprofessional industry and doctors (sans nutritionists) never majored in nutritional science. Based on WHO guidelines and many government health bodies, taking care of immunity was believed to be instrumental in negating severe effects of Corona Virus infection. This is nothing but plain truth, as in many studies this has been proven that more control on wellness pillars (I will enlist those subsequently) lead to even negating certain types of cancer triggers in human body.The four wellness pillars of health which we need to EARN
E– Exercise daily, in any form. While we are aware of this, it was impacted negatively during pandemic as gyms were closed but still people have control on most of these activities at home.
A– Attitude (PMA- positive mental attitude). Pandemic has spiraled this to another level. With all the loss of lives, loss of jobs, uncertainty all around, a chaos prevailed. This can be negated by tightly uniting with your loved ones and have a circle of positive influencers.
R– Rest, or we say 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep which went for a toss, given that most people were on their own, managing everything. This has caused lot of stress not only on human bodies but human relations as well. Controlling this factor will augur well for natural immunity. Above three pillars are purely in your control
N– nutrition this pillar is very important for keeping ourselves healthy and it’s not in an individual control. Learning how to source or supplement your diet with vitamin, minerals and immunity boosters makes human body resilient in many ways.
While EARNing the health by following the above will give us a strong immunity in the long term, it by no means indicates that we do not need a Vaccine. Getting the Vaccine (as per guidance in your respective country) is an absolute must to acquire specific immunity against the novel coronavirus in near term. Masks are now way of life forever and adopting ‘Sanatani’ practices will ensure a hygienic and healthy life.
Concluding on a positive note, an unexpected balance was reinstituted during this pandemic. It was not only a visual treat to wake up to chirping of birds in metropolitans, the clean air was a call from our very own Mother Nature to reduce, if not remove the interference from mankind.
Will this be a trigger for better parity of humans with nature or will it continue to be plundered irresponsibly? Only time will tell!
Pankaj Kalra & Dr. Vandana are health care professionals with over decade long experience in health care analytics specifically to pharmaceutical industry. Currently, Pankaj is supporting Global
Commercial Vaccine Tender Operations for Vaccines MNC and Dr Vandana is supporting health care consultants with IP data-based products for Global Consulting MNC. Academically, Pankaj is
Qualified Pharmacist, with PG in Pharmaceutical Management and Clinical Research, whilst Dr.
Vandana is a Qualified Dentist and majors in Clinical Research. Both are wellness enthusiast as well.