The long term implications of COVID: When it leaves, what remains?

Mafazah Sharafuddin
June 1, 2021

postcovid.jpg

The pandemic has swept the world in a panic. It has come with the pervading sense of fear and loss, and completely unexpectedly to the common man. Although environmentalists have been predicting a rise in pandemics as a consequence of the same things that caused climate change, to the layman, it arrived out of the blue. 

The pandemic has taken away several things that make us social beings. Physical touch, gatherings, dining together etc. have all gone from being something one does for fun to something that could be potentially fatal.

It does not come as a shock that people all of the globe are suffering during the pandemic. While they are unsure of how much longer this will go on, the spread of the vaccines make people hopeful that it will soon come to an end. 

When the pandemic ends, what will it leave behind?

The anxiety of being

With fatal illness and massive death-tolls, anxiety comes as an almost inevitable companion. The compulsive act of using hand sanitizer after touching anything in public is slowly becoming second nature. 

A US study comparing the number of adults experiencing symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder saw the number raise from 11% in January 2019 to 41.1% in January 2021. It also showed an increase in suicidal ideation and substance use. 

Another unfortunate consequence of the pandemic is a possible rise in agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a specific anxiety disorder. It is defined by a fear of being in part of a public environment or activity from which leaving or escaping is perceived to be difficult. Due to the frequent and persistent lockdowns and the association of danger with being in public spaces, the slip towards agoraphobia is understandable. 

An integral part of the human experience is physical touch. While some may be isolating with family, there are many people all over the world who are living along in the middle of the pandemic. The pandemic may also lead to an increase in ‘touch-starvation’ as the stress relieving hormone, oxytocin, is released through touch.

The prevalence of mental illness after a calamity is not a new phenomenon. The aftermath of war and natural disasters have left people suffering in its wake. This is, however, a calamity of global magnitude. Like the survivors of war, those who come out of this pandemic alive are going to carry it with them for the rest of their lives.

A state of grief 

Aptly dubbed the ‘grief pandemic’ by sociologist Holly Prigerson, the Coronavirus pandemic has taken away many loved ones. Children are left orphaned and parents mourn their children. The elderly are kept under keen watch by their loved ones in fear that they, too, will be taken away. 

Grief and mourning have become an everyday thing since the pandemic showed its full strength. With entire families being wiped out, and crematoriums unable to process the bodies at the rate at which they arrive, we as a society are experiencing death in high definition. 

The processing of is complex. It is made more complex by the situation we are in. the constant anxiety and fear of safety are severely detrimental to the processing of grief. There is no room to process grief in a situation where death is continuous. As of now, we are in a persistent state of grief.

Money matters 

The economic implications of the pandemic have been spoken about often at a global scale. Small businesses have shut down. Daily wage laborers struggle to find jobs with the lockdowns in place. Several people who, before 2020, believed they were secure in their jobs, have been unexpectedly dismissed. 

Survival in the middle of a pandemic, even without getting infected, with no incoming money is precarious. People are dependent of the goodwill of social workers and people who give out food, donations, etc. People are being rendered homeless because they are unable to pay rent. The inability to properly socially distance or isolate, however, increases the risk of infection.

If survival for the poor without getting infected is precarious, surviving COVID is a miracle. They have to combat steep prices for treatment, trouble with transportation, being unable to afford medication and several other issues. 

Not only is getting infected and showing symptoms a death sentence for so many, it comes with the fear that it will bankrupt their family. 

The state the economy is in right now has no quick fixes. There are small scale industries that have suffered in a way they may not recover from. An alarming percentage of medium and small enterprises have faced permanent closure. The recovery of the economy is going to a long, arduous process. 

On a positive note

While the pandemic has been a cause of suffering for people everywhere, the long term social implications of it are not all bad. 

For environmentalists, the pandemic has been proof that there can be no real solution to climate change until bog corporations stop contributing to it. With the common people staying at home most of the time, hugely reducing the amount of fuel used by the public, there has been no huge change in the state of the world. 

While it may always be the socially responsible option to continue to use environmentally friendly options, the onus truly does fall on large corporations to limit their damage before it is unsalvageable. 

It addition to this, curb-side pickups, online learning, work from home etc. have shown that it is possible to do these actions remotely. This opens up a whole realm of possibilities for people with disabilities not only in employment and education, but day to day activities.

When accessibility has been made possible because there is no other way, employers and management of educational institutes can no longer give excuses for their lack of accessibility for disabled employees or students. 

The pandemic may leave behind a more accessible world. 

Comments

Ramesh Mishra
 - 
Wednesday, 2 Jun 2021

COVID-19, PANDEMIC
Has put the world behind at least 25 years but India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, and Nepal 50 years. During the coming 50 years, India would face massive internal conflicts dividing the Provinces. India lacks skilled leaders.

Ramesh Mishra
Victoria BC CANADA

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
Agencies
June 14,2021

The highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has mutated further to form the ‘Delta plus’ or ‘AY.1’ variant but there is no immediate cause for concern in India as its incidence in the country is still low, scientists said.

The new Delta plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India and one of the drivers of the deadly second wave. Though there is no indication yet of the severity of the disease due to the new variant, Delta plus is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for Covid-19 recently authorised in India.

“One of the emerging variants is B.1.617.2.1 also known as AY.1 characterized by the acquisition of K417N mutation,” Vinod Scaria, clinician and scientist at Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), tweeted on Sunday.  

The mutation, he said, is in the spike protein of SARS-COV-2, which helps the virus enter and infect the human cells.  

According to Public Health England, 63 genomes of Delta (B.1.617.2) with the new K417N mutation have been identified so far on the global science initiative GISAID.  

In its latest report on coronavirus variants, updated till last Friday, the health agency said Delta plus was present in six genomes from India as of June 7.  

“The variant frequency for K417N is not much in India at this point in time. The sequences are mostly from Europe, Asia and America,” Scaria wrote on Twitter.  

The earliest sequence of this genome was found in Europe in late March this year.  

Noting that the travel histories for the variant are not readily available to make assumptions, Scaria said an important point to consider regarding K417N is the “evidence suggesting resistance to monoclonal antibodies Casirivimab and Imdevimab”.

This cocktail recently received emergency-use authorization in the country from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation. Drug majors Roche India and Ciplas have priced the antibody cocktail at a steep Rs 59,750 per dose.  

Similar to antibodies which are proteins that the body naturally produces to defend itself against the disease, monoclonal antibodies are artificially created in a lab and tailor-made to fight the disease they treat.  

Casirivimab and Imdevimab are monoclonal antibodies that are specifically directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, and designed to block the virus' attachment and entry into human cells.  

Scaria also indicated the mutation may be associated with the ability to escape the immune response against the virus.

Allaying fears, immunologist Vineeta Bal noted that while there may be some setback in the use of commercial antibody cocktail due to the new variant, resistance to the therapy is not an indication of higher virulence or severity of a disease.  

“How transmissible this new variant is will be a crucial factor to determine its rapid spread or otherwise,” Bal, guest faculty at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, told PTI.  

She also noted that the quality and quantity of neutralising antibodies, responsible for defending cells from pathogens, generated in the individual infected with the new variant is unlikely to be affected because of the mutation.  

“Thus in individuals catching infection with the new variant, it may not be a matter worth worrying,” she added. 

Pulmonologist and medical researcher Anurag Agrawal concurred.  

“There is no cause of concern due to the new variant in India as of now,” Agrawal, the director of CSIR-IGIB, told PTI.

The scientist said the blood plasma from many fully vaccinated individuals will have to be tested against this variant to determine whether it shows any significant immune escape.  As the Delta variant continues to evolve and acquire new mutations, there is a lot of interest in understanding its evolution. He said SARS-CoV-2 has a nearly constant rate of acquiring genetic variants, and each variant has acquired additional variants in a stepwise fashion.

“Understanding this continued evolution is of great importance in mapping the evolutionary landscape of emerging variants. Largely the virus has tried to optimise for transmission and immune escape by step-wise acquisition of new mutations,” he added 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
June 14,2021

New Dehi, June 14: Fuel prices were increased again on Monday after a day's pause. Petrol in the national capital Delhi is now priced at Rs 96.4 a litre (after a 38 paise rise) while diesel costs Rs 87.28 a litre, up by 30 paise.

In Bhopal, a litre of petrol now costs Rs 104.59 while diesel costs Rs 95.91. Petrol in Ladakh costs Rs 101.95 per litre and diesel Rs 93.90 a litre.

In India's financial capital, Mumbai, petrol is priced at Rs 102.58 and diesel at Rs 94.70 a litre each.

Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT and freight charges. The increase in prices is due to a combination of rising international oil prices and central and state taxes.

Global oil prices held near multi-year highs on Monday, underpinned by an improved outlook for demand as several nations eased coronavirus curbs.

Brent crude was up 14 cents, or 0.2 per cent, at $72.83 by 0123 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate was also up 14 cents, or 0.2 per cent, at $71.05 a barrel, after reaching the highest since October 2018 at $71.24 on Friday and rising 1.9 per cent on the week. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
June 14,2021

Dubai, June 14: The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GCAA) issued a fresh list of safety protocols for passenger and private business charter fights arriving from countries that are currently facing incoming travellers’ suspension.

Measures include mandatory tracking devices for passengers, including golden and silver visa holders said a new safety decision circular issued by the authority. The stringent regulations apply to all aircraft operators conducting flights from and to the UAE and the following countries – Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zambia.

The circular, a copy of which Khaleej Times has seen, said, “The current development on the Covid-19 pandemic leads the UAE to impose new flight and passengers’ restrictions. The UAE government is closely monitoring the situation and will provide further updates and instructions as necessary.” An official with GCAA also confirmed to Khaleej Times that the circular has been issued by the civil aviation authority. It is said that passengers need to wear the device for at least ten days.

Wristband tracking devices were made mandatory for all international incoming passengers while they complete a mandatory 14-day home quarantine in Abu Dhabi in September last year. However, charter flight operators and travel agencies operating in this sector said the devices were given to incoming passengers arriving in Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.

Raheesh Babu, the group COO of Musafir.com, an internet travel agency said passengers landing in Dubai had to adhere to ten-day mandatory quarantine and undergo PCR tests on the first, fourth, and eighth day of their arrival. “As far as we know, none of our passengers who arrived in Dubai were given tracking devices. However, passengers who arrived in RAK and Sharjah were asked to wear the wristband,” said Babu.

He added, “A majority of our customers are from the sub-continent. Since the suspension was announced on April 24, we’ve had approximately 800 businesspersons and families travel to UAE with us.”

The circular said passengers are subject to the required public health protocol upon arrival and any Naturalization and Residency department conditions, they must wear a monitoring and tracking device, comply with a ten-day quarantine period; and complete a PCR test upon arrival followed by two other PCR tests on the fourth and eighth day of their quarantine period.

The rules are also applicable to crew members operating from countries mentioned in the safety decision. Additionally, passengers are to immediately quarantine in a hotel during the whole transit period, and their movement is limited to the required movement between the hotel and the airport without contacting persons of the UAE community, said the circular.

Babu also stated that the approvals process from GCAA have been made extremely stringent to ensure Covid-19 safety. The circular also stated all arrivals are subject to the Immigration conditions in the UAE and the approval of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCMEA) must be obtained for unscheduled and charter flights. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.