By Dr. ZulfikarBux
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt Medical Center
Kaieteur News – The world is currently experiencing the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some countries have started to initiate lockdown measures, others are continuing to open up to salvage the economy. Leaders all over are faced with the balancing act of lockdowns which can ruin livelihoods versus opening up and the possibility of increasing infection and death rates. It’s a ‘damn if you do or damn if you don’t’ situation that needs the implementation of evidence based actions with the ability to pull back and re-strategize if the situation escalates. Today, I will give some insights on where we may be heading and what we can do to keep the situation in check and possibly, survive this period until a vaccine is available for us.
When will a vaccine be available in Guyana?
The most recent International evidence indicates the possibility of a successful vaccine being cleared for use in late November to early December 2020. Most of the touted vaccines are in the late stages of trials and we should begin to know of their effectiveness by the end of this month or early November. Even if all goes well and emergency authorization is given for vaccines to be used in December 2020, Guyana will not begin to properly benefit from such vaccines until around April 2020. We are therefore looking at figuring out the best coping mechanisms to survive with this virus for at least the next six months.
What will happen in the meantime?
What happens until we have vaccination coverage depends on how responsible we act as a nation. We’ve had a fourfold increase in deaths in the past two months when compared to the first five months of the outbreak. At this current rate, we can expect close to 400 deaths by April 2021. This should not be acceptable by any standards. We therefore need to work together and adhere to evidence based guidelines to decrease our infection and death rates. Anytime your instincts hints to you that you are taking too much risk, listen to it and step back and review your action. That is what is called responsible behaviour and is what will prevent us from having so many deaths from COVID-19.
Striking the balance between a thriving economy and overwhelming the system
There are two needs that we are all trying to balance and prevent from becoming overwhelmed. They are the ability to thrive as an economy while being able to sustain a medical system that can continue to provide medical care for all in need. The coronavirus is the barrier between these two needs and the goal is to devise plans and actions that will allow us to maneuver around this barrier until it can be removed with worldwide vaccine coverage. Leaders therefore have to allow their population to take enough action to sustain their livelihood while preventing them from becoming irresponsible.
How can you be Hero?
Being responsible during this pandemic means you are a hero who took the necessary actions to prevent yourself and others from getting infected by the coronavirus. This takes some amount of adjustment and loss of freedom but that’s what heroes do. There are so many preventative COVID-19 measures that can overwhelm most. However, if you practice the 3 Ws well, you will be acting responsible and be considered a hero in my book:
-Wear a mask when you are out—after all, superheroes wear masks
-Watch your distance (avoid crowds and stay as far as you can from others)
-Wash or sanitize your hands regularly
We cannot be successful against this pandemic if we continue with how things are currently. We need to take actions to decrease the COVID-19 infection and death rate in Guyana before it breaks our system. Be responsible, be a hero; practice the 3 Ws!
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