On National Doctor’s Day, Dr Farah Ingale, Director-Internal Medicine, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital highlights the four essential lessons learned during the last two years and how they can help combat viruses better in the coming years
COVID-19 changed the world as we know it. It impacted almost every place on the globe in one way or the other. For many people, their entire life was upended, and they were affected tragically as they had to face the loss of their family and loved ones. During this time, there was a lot of fear, panic, hysteria created by people on one hand. On the other hand, there was also many episodes of kindness, empathy and compassion that were depicted by communities which was extremely heart-warming to see.
Ahead, we have put together four essential lessons we learned during the last two years and how they can help us combat viruses better in the coming years.
Lesson 1: Vaccines are powerful and practical tools in the fight against COVID
The value of vaccines cannot be undermined. According to The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the COVID vaccines reduced the potential global death toll during the pandemic by almost two-thirds in their first year, saving an estimated 19.8 million lives. In the coming months, it is hoped that people understand the value of these vaccines and encourage their family members and loved ones to take them whenever needed. In addition, with people understanding the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine, it is hoped that vaccination against other diseases like measles, chicken pox and other viruses will also gain prominence within society, especially among the vulnerable sections.
Lesson 2: Advancements in medicine, including telehealth, will become the new normal
Since the pandemic affected normal movement and it was not always possible for patients to visit doctors in hospitals, technology played a valuable role in connecting them. Many doctors could do their consultations online, especially for an illness that did not need a physical examination. This mainly worked well for mental health experts, who could hold online talks with their patients with minimum effort.
In the future, while there will be diseases for which a patient will need to go to the hospital, these will be reserved for severe cases, making it convenient for both doctors and patients. Further, with teleconsultations, patients who live far away can consult a specialist in other cities without having to travel all the way there.
Lesson 3: Mental health is essential for every member of society
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health across all sections of society. The last two years were a period of significant upheaval in the lives of numerous people, and tackling them required enormous grit and courage. In the process, many people suffered from anxiety attacks and depression.
A large section of society had to grapple with complex issues, including juggling work and childcare, job loss, isolation, and losing a loved one to the virus. Many doctors and medical professionals also combated problems related to stress and burnout as they had to be on the frontline of the pandemic. Since so many people are mentally affected by the COVID virus, resources must be put in place so that they can reach out to experts who will help them overcome their mental anxiety, stress, and depression properly.
Lesson 4: The world of infections and pathogens is complex, and even a tiny virus can disrupt the world
While scientists and doctors understood the nature of pathogens and viruses even before the pandemic, there were many new learnings that the covid virus taught the community. The world has now understood that pathogens can disrupt how the world functions. The only way to prevent diseases from having fatal outcomes is by investing in knowledge and accepting that we do not have a complete understanding of the world. Humility is an important quality we need to learn as such pandemics might happen again and being prepared for such situations is one of the best ways to tackle it effectively.