If only we proactively spread the message within our network, engage in an active dialog, resolve the misgivings around the vaccine, start Fastrack the process to curtail the virus. Our ability to bounce back, as a nation and as a community, depends upon how we counter the virus.
The UK is now reeling under one of the most severe public health crisis, not seen since the start of the current pandemic. Despite adequate care, few variants are loose in the community with a propensity for increased transmission, ability to evade the RT PCR tests, cause severe disease and a potential for decreased vaccine efficacy. The later is still under review, while the available data is indicating that the efficacy is probably not compromised.
On Dec 26, 2020, I shared a link associating the variants with the infectivity, implications on testing, therapy, and vaccines. https://mymilieu.org/2020/12/26/emergent-variants-and-infectivity/ Now, these variants are gradually becoming pervasive. In the UK, the lockdown has become commonplace. LA is Southern California, is no exception.
As the mutant variants in fast-moving across communities, they will strengthen by our resistance to vaccinate. I shared another link, https://mymilieu.org/2021/01/28/a-triple-whammy-variant-vaccination-and-complacency/, that provides a simple explanation on how vaccination will halt the spread of the virus. The medical community and other healthcare workers have to put all their might to counter the anti-science (believes) and the rumors generated from conspiracy theories to increase adoption of the virus. However, the responsibility falls on all the elites, not just those from medicine and allied faculty, to spread vaccination.
If only we proactively spread the message within our network, engage in an active dialog, resolve the misgivings around the vaccine, start Fastrack the process to curtail the virus. Our ability to bounce back, as a nation and as a community, depends upon how we counter the virus.
Below excerpts from Nikkei Asia Review, “The lower prices from Chinese rivals forced Japanese manufacturing out of production. Panasonic’s solar cell and panel business has been in the red.”
As I see, this is a generic “anti-competition” model adopted in China. Ideally, under the WTO, state subsidies to produce a product below the market price and pushing it into virgin markets is strongly discouraged. Anti-dumping, however, is tied to the promotion of subsidized products. However, here lies (lie, no pun intended) the caveat. Only if “subsidy is proven”, thus transparency and audits are key to this. Both of which are lacking with China.
“Solar Cells” are not the only industry that is under threat. Almost all manufacturing, irrespective of the country of origin or the customer base, are under this threat. Over the years, they lose to Chinese competition. The mantra is clear, mass-produced under low (state-supported) cost, building obsolescence into the design and selling irrespective of the profits while booking the losses from the CPC Govt.
Buy Locally, Sell Globally China is a nemesis to global manufacturing. It will not be surprising if we all lose the ability to do so. Individually, we lack the spirit to see this when we choose to buy cost-optimized products, and collectively, we do not have enough policy safeguards because we (most) are signatories to the WTO Open Market policies.
Buy Locally, Sell Globally Mantras are good but let me ask you, how often have we gone to the Produce Market to buy vegetables without selecting the produce/vegetables? I know my behavior; when I select Okra (ladies fingers) or Egg Plant (Brinjal), I have been a nasty picker. I like unblemished fruits, absolutely fresh and lustrous, and yes, picturesque. When I buy a product, I see the price to value ratio, never realizing obsolescence or the country of origin. Price matters to me. I bring it home, and after using it, it breaks down. Later, I compare that with some of the equipment that my father bought – the Usha ceiling fan, which lasted 45 years, or the Allwyn fridge, that lasted until rust took over. I was born in that generation where obsolescence was there but not progeria, a fast-aging design element. I feel defeated, but despite, I start my purchase journey almost similarly, frustratingly repeating exactly what I did.
Why blame China? Let me say it is fruitless to blame China since there is an entire supply chain that benefits from exchanging hands. From those wholesalers, logistics, and finally the outlets. Yes, let’s include the taxes (local, state, and federal). Who would want their coffers empty? No one complained because they all are benefitted. At least I expect someone to take a bird’s eye view and realize the revenue drain that ultimately empties the countries coffers.
Cess for Local Manufacturing Before we understand the local cess model, let’s visit “Cash for Clunkers” under the Obama administration. When Barack Obama took office, the US was a major importer of fossil fuel. A lot of dollars were landing in the OPEC countries ultimately as Petro-dollars. Apart from under production, a major root cause was bad cars, called Gas Guzzlers, with dismal mileage. I witnessed several such cars in the countryside, where the owners could not get rid of their Gas Guzzlers because the cost for a better car was not affordable compared to the daily difference of costly gasoline. Remember at one point. Gas was four dollars a gallon. This swath of massive countryside drivers collectively contributed to this enormous dollar outflow to OPEC. President Obama gave incentive for buying a better car in lieu of the Clunkers. The Clunkers were scrapped, thus removing a massive source of outflow. Of course, horizontal drilling and fracking provided additional opportunities to tap untouched reserves. Within a few years, the US became a major Oil exporter.
Cess is not a tax, Cess is promoting and remodeling behavior. Cash for Clunkers is an ideal example of understanding to build Cess, and not tax indiscriminately creatively. To a gullible administration, imposing a tax is a simple noncreative solution. To a creative mind, root cause analysis and fixing the causative contributory factors is solving the problem. Executive Orders or Trade Wars are not a solution. Neither Trump nor Biden, with his 43 executive actions, are on the path of real problem-solving. One was a populist-nationalist, whereas Biden sounds to be fixing ut with cosmetic surgeries.
Let’s explore Cess with Creativity to Counter Chinese Cannibalism.
Shashank Heda Dallas, Texas
Disclaimer: These are my original thoughts without affiliation or alignment to any ideology. Your comments are welcome. If you forward, kindly forward with my name as the author. Thanks!
First, as most of you all know, Quad is a military alliance that started as an exercise between the US & India and later expanded to include Japan and, in recent times, Australia.
Brazen and Mortar Military The root of the alliance is in countering China. It was an existential threat (that’s partially demystified now, keep reading) for India, and a bulwark was essential to counter that threat. The US, too, required a strategic partner to counter the growing assertiveness of China. Thus was born the first Malabar exercise in the Indian ocean, for both the fleets to coordinate, in case of an imminent war. China’s belligerence towards the southeast nation is well known, but these countries were more worried about converting a covert threat to join the overt alliance. However, as the decade moved on, Senkaku island’s threats and the Chinese hegemony around the Japanese peninsula only expanded. Australia, a neutral trade partner too, was brashly maneuvered into an antithesis by Chinese bullying. Thus the formation of the Quad, once an alliance exclusively between India and the US.
If you take an inventory of the stock, you may realize, India is possibly 4-8 times smaller is the armada but several times motivated than the red brigade.
Motivation doesn’t help. Well, in bras track, motivation is not enough. We have to have a strategy backed with firepower and, of course, minimal odds of inclement. Thus Quad was essential and critical. If it was critical for India, it was essential for the South China neighbors too.
Galway and Doklam These two recent skirmishes have demystified the strength of the red army. China was sufficiently pushed back with the strategic and brute force of India. What was once a formidable army today has turned out to be a weakling, after all that happened in Ladakh. At least, my own internal awe for Chinese superiority has diminished significantly. However, having said that, China is still a threat to India, and it will be callous of India to let its guards down if I say Quad may not be required. China needs a pimp (like Pakistan) to support it masochism, so do the SE Asian nations need the Quad.
Is Quad enough? My personal understanding is that China is a bigger cyber threat than mortar and bras-track (a physical army). Their capacities for espionage and cyber interventions are more lethal than their capability to attack and conquer physically. Thus, in a future war scenario, the initial salvo will be a cyberwar followed by incursion and control by the red army.
What’s the solution? Five Eyes, Seven Eyes, and Nine Eyes intelligence sharing, backed up with Quad, is a pragmatic option. If we counter the cyberattacks and cyber incidences, that would be a starter alone. However, the defense is not the best strategy. Identifying and simulating attack strategies and building readiness thus forms a robust defense grid and provides a solid backbone.
Intimidating Taiwan Recently, China flew several sorties of its flying squad over Taiwan, asserting its might over a breakaway province. Of course, understanding those as war simulations, the US moved its fleet and armada closer to the Taiwan waters, only to frustrate China.
After the Galway (Ladhak) shame and the Doklam incident, I have realized the hollowness of the CPEC rhetoric. Thus, even if China said “it will be an act of war to support Taiwan’s separation,” I don’t think China has the might (definitely a hollowed right) to stake that claim.
Rhetorics and showcasing are a strategy, not an intent. The Quad and other South Asian neighbors are bored of these howling of the dragon.
Shashank Heda Dallas, Texas
Disclaimer: The above are my thoughts with allegiance or alliance of any writers guild or author/s.
(600+ words, 3-4 minutes; Why read this? How to mitigate the impact of variants, leverage vaccines, and keep battle readiness for next surge and achieve business/social objectives with minimal disruptions).
To the unsuspecting mind, COVID-19 is done and dusted. However, scientists and the medical community are well aware that this is not the case. To those who believe COVID-19 is over, I am sharing my perspective on why COVID-19 is not yet done.
Variants: Mutant variants such as B 184.108.40.206, D614G, and N501V gradually dominating the global landscape. Over more than 45 countries are currently subdued with the new variants. Understand, the new mutations are like new viruses, and the human immune system needs to build the immune response once again. For this same reason, we vaccinate yearly for Influenza because the virus changes its structure due to a phenomenon called ‘antigenic shift and antigenic drift.’ Such changes are more frequent with Coronavirus (SARS CoV2).
Herd Immunity: When a sufficient percent of the population has developed immunity to a stable variant (not changing genome) of the virus. This threshold is determined by several factors, including transmissibility of the disease. The latest strain, which supposedly originated in South Africa, is considered 50-70% more transmissible than the original SARS CoV2, which originated from Wuhan. Increase transmissibility does not translate to increased mortality and case fatality ratio. However, it impacts the binding of the endogenous antibodies. Thus increase transmissibility is a double edge sword. It has the potential for faster spread amongst the population, ultimately expanding the herd immunity for that strain; however, it comes with a negative side that the immune response developed to earlier exposure is not adequate. Thus the herd immunity acquired may not necessarily be sufficient to protect the population.
Vaccines: In Dec 2020, I wrote a blog on the variants and their potential implications on the virus. Recent reports indicate that the vaccine developed by Moderna may not be affected due to these variants. Novavax, an integral initiative of Operation Warp, has reported that its vaccine may not have the same efficacy level against the variant from South Africa. It is too early to confirm a similar effect of the variant viruses on the leading vaccines. Vaccine rollout is hampered by manufacturing capacity, logistics, and the complex rollout to diverse population segments. However, the biggest challenge is the slow pace of adoption and the misconception about vaccines. Anti-science has taken center stage, and those with rationale science are facing an upstream battle.
Thus a Tripple whammy of variants, vaccines, and lack of herd immunity will potentially have a significant toll in containing and mitigating the virus.
How can speedy vaccine rollout help? Let us understand that vaccines and natural infections both work in tandem to counter the virus and build a sufficient threshold of immunity. However, that threshold is brought down due to changes to the virus (variants), thus requiring a better adoption of the virus to achieve a similar threshold for the population. In a hypothetical scenario, imagine a threshold of, say, 60 (60-80) is required for meaningful protection of the population. We can achieve this number by either – a) natural immunity plus b) the immunity acquired from the vaccine. Presume the equation is 25+35=60. If those inoculated with vaccines increase, naturally, we will reach the threshold early.
Conversely, if the variants keep changing, the total exposure in the population will reduce. Thus, the herd immunity is lowered (due to a newer variant). Naturally, the vaccine rolls out, and adoption has to compensate to achieve that threshold. A myriad of factors will influence vaccine rollout or adoption that needs a closer review by the policymakers and administrators. There is no place for complacency. COVID-19 is not over, and leaning on luck is not a robust strategy. “If we give the virus a chance to do its worst, it will.” – Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, an immunologist at Rockefeller University in New York.
“Right now, the immediate future is not the time to relax.” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security in Washington, D.C.
“We’re at war with this virus,” he says. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts.
Shashank Heda, MD Dallas, Texas (For COVIDRxExchange, a global nonprofit initiative working since April 2020 for disseminating expertise and insight on management of COVID).
This opinion piece from Ezra Klein is very substantial. I am not a Democrat neither a Republican, but a left-leaning centrist who adores Democracy and its institutional privileges.
Why is this opinion important? It provides a blueprint for making democracies successful, of marginalizing repugnant Trumpism into oblivion.
What’s Ezra discussing? Of all the agenda, the important thing provided is a strict timeline that the Democrats have to follow to consolidate a win for President Biden. He cited Trumpism as a global phenomenon that is gradually becoming pervasive and uprooting that is an existential reality. How? You should read this article cited in the link below. However, I am more interested in this, not alone from a US perspective but from a global perspective.
In recent times, there has been a confluence of such pockets within the realms of Democracy. I presume the root causes are almost similar, though the modus operandi and models differ, irrespective of the democracies – Ankara, Brasilia, Colombo, Caracas, DC, Delhi, or London, Manila, etc., the list is long. Yes, I intentionally omitted Beijing, Islamabad, Moscow, Pyongyang, Tehran, etc. These are pseudo democracies under the facade of democracies.
Where do we start? More important than that, what’s the deadline? Most democracies took the early parts as experimentations, some leaning left and most leaning covertly capitalist (mind you, I never said, right). In their greed to stay put, we compromised the very ethos of Democracy. The left-leaning socialist got decimated, whereas the capitalist gained and established their hegemony. Most of us saw or were made to see Democracy through the colorful glasses of capitalism. It is a heady mix exactly after mixing politics with religion. While the two are prominent spectra of today’s Democracy, another spectrum that recently took a prominent place – of politics and populism. The latter paved the way for an easy entry into politics. A few spectra add further to the rejigged model of our mutated Democracy.
Integrated Governance as a Foundational Stone
However, to truly understand, practice, and improvise Democracy, one needs strong Governance, Governance that is overarching right from the conception of the ideologies to the practice and execution and how the models are getting iterations. Unless the institution of Governance is independent, strong, and un-dismantlable, we are like to see mutants in Democracy that may very well devour the very foundation.
Shashank Heda, Dallas, Texas
The content above is exclusively my own thoughts, no affiliation or allegiance.
The “State of Wartime” preparations in China (as reported by The Nikkei Asia Review). It offers a glimpse of reality behind the Iron Curtain of grand censorship. This is the reason i do not read Xinhua or Caixin or any other Chinese Media Controlled News.
As a Child, we received a lot of Russian literature, newspapers books, magazines etc. All glorified USSR’s Communist lifestyle. With a stroke of Perestroika, that entire pack of cards was dismantled.
My brother-in-law, frequently visits China, as a businessman. During our discussion, all I realized was China is a great nation, with immense palatial infrastructures, roads and highways. When i read the stock market news, all i see is how the “Communist Controlled Capitalist China” (CCCC), is prospering under the CPC. Hardly do we realize the dearth and hollowness behind that opulence. After all, and as I reflect, only one thing strikes, that there is no difference between the glorified USSR, and the CPC’s CCCC.
Below excerpts from Nikkei Asia Review.
Shashank Heda, Dallas, Texas
China is at war, though not with another state. One by one, local governments have declared they are in a “wartime state” against COVID-19. Now the central government has had enough. In mid-January, the official Xinhua News Agency issued a commentary saying officials should not “cry wolf” and be too quick to declare they are entering a “wartime state.” It said the abuse of the term is not conducive to the overall situation.
Crying that the wolf is coming will paralyze the masses, the commentary said, warning that such hyperbole could sap alertness if the real wolf does come and confront the country with a more urgent coronavirus crisis.
The reason local governments and the mandarins that run them are opting to declare war is simple. it gives them cover.
So afraid they are of being rebuked by Chinese President Xi Jinping for a lack of urgency, they trumpet a wartime state, look busy but do nothing. “Don’t hit mosquitoes with heavy artillery,” the central government is telling them.
Now that Joe Biden is in the unassailable driver’s seat with a majority in both the houses and with an unambiguous agenda of putting the US back into the center stage of national and global priorities, I have suddenly awakened to the realism on how we lost the last four years. It’s a colossal loss – personal, social, national, and global. Many amongst you may not realize how personal or social it was when the stock market kept rising and your personal bank accounts were fattening. I believe we at least agree on national and global loss that is irreparable and irreplaceable. To those disagreeing on the prior two, I will dedicate a separate blog to help them understand.
A Wall Partially Built Well, the Wall that was partially built, with taxpayers’ money, now will be in shambles. You may not realize that our kids, their kids, and most importantly, “We” will have to pay that. When we see our retirement funds are drying, we may trace those to too many of those decisions that were taken under the Trump Era. The Wall is an example, a magnificent representation of those four years that cannot be dismantled but will remain as a living testament to Trump’s legacy.
The Wall is not all I always liked Trump’s anti-establishment approach to problem-solving. China and North Korea are classic examples of deep appreciation of his good work. Similarly, forging an alliance in the South China Seas, consolidating the QUAD, the five eyes, seven eyes, and the nine eyes, against an existential threat, are no mean achievements. Let’s not be too liberal to ignore how he relegated Muslim Terrorism to an inconsequential presence. Let’s understand the importance of forging that middle east alliance between Israel and the Sunni nations. It’s no mean achievement to renegotiate NAFTA, make Japan and the South Asian nations realize the cost of their security, that the US was paying from its pocket. Let’s not overlook the change to immigration policies without ignoring the trepidations and the tragedies of those separated families.
Yes, it was full of commotion. Politics moved from theatrics. Every day was a threat, and politics dominated our family room, our social moments, and our board rooms. Low moral code bequeathed our daily life as White Nationalist, (Un)Americanism and Polarization became pervasive as much as hate. Those living in the metros might not have realized. However, I presume you saw the siege at the Capitol; that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. I suggest, for at least a few years, exercise caution when you are in the countryside. Such is the divisive phenomenon that Trump articulated across the nation that QANon, Proud Boys emerged even within the legendary troops’ rank and files. Can you ignore this?
An insecure populist demagogue Of course, at every level, the only criteria of serving in the government was a spineless servile attitude. Right from those who surrounded him, until those smaller peripheral cities, he built a chain of servility, lacking in character and commitment, that was ready to compromise the most avowed commitment of the nation, to the nation, and to the global community. Strategies and policies suddenly became knee jerk. Twitter was the official media, and cartoon channel lost its relevance. Sometimes, America was here, and exactly at the same time, America was elsewhere, never with those partners and collaborators of national and global order. Allies and Alliances were perturbed, confused, just like a Saturday night hangover. Despite this, life kept moving forward. As you all know, time is merciless, does not wait for any, and did the same with the Trump era. Despite our constant yearning for it to be stopped, of getting frozen ignoring the warming, the global warming. That’s true. Most emissions commitments, policies, and restrain carbon footprint were thrown into the abyss – Dismal and dismissed, as those are regarded in the countryside. It’s a high cost. The global warning did not stop. That’s the timer on which humanity is sitting right now. We will realize it when some of those frosty glaciers will release another life form (like SARS CoV2) to inundate humanity while we are sparing on where it came from or sparing over (vaccine) nationalism.
What do I say? Will the good, the bad, and the ugly be thrown out through the window of time? Or Biden retain some part of my lost four years?
I, Shashank Heda, authored the above article. It’s not yet published on my blog site, mymilieu.org. I am so thankful to my mentors and teachers, who constantly encourage, and I appreciate those who silently admire with a smile but fail to compliment.
Amidst the cornucopia of the varied groups that comprises the AltRight, the center piece is racism, white supremacy and anti-semitic indoctrination of the lost tribes.
Who are the lost tribes? If you have read my previous blogs, i have mentioned the creation of a swath of left behind generation that subscribes to irrational believes and conspiracies. The left behind are created by decades of capitalistic leaning and dominance of a democratic society that neglected and created a class of “Have-Not’s”, from flight of business via NAFTA (Agricultural), China (Manufacturing), or India/SE Asia (Back office/BPO).
No retooling was done to assimilate this class into the new capitalistic order. Instead, white and blue collar workers from foreign land were sought to fill the newly created knowledge based industry. These are the left behind.
Those in metropolitan US never get a feel of these sentiments but my farming experience exposed me to these raw sentiments, which i gathered from the countryside.
It is perfectly right for the market to prevail and behave in a natural order of market driven forces. However, if you revisit the history of successful civilizations and nations in the last few centennial, you will note that the rulers were always cognisant of the masses and did the best in the interest of the masses. Empires and Kingdoms flourished or perished based on this single nuance of sentiments connected to the ground.
Successive regimes of republicans and democrats willfully ignored understanding and catering to these pain points. Trump skillfully exploited their sentiments and again, if you review any right leaning movement, it is not unusual to usurp such suppressed sentiments without exploitation and ‘use and throw’ to suite the ends.
Ultimately, the common man – irrespective of right or left leaning, is at the mercy of politicians and policies. I strongly do not consider them to be the culprits but those creating them or exploiting them. Finally, a permanent solution lies in address this chasm.
We need to understand QANon, Proud Boys, Alt-Right, three percenters, and the Oath Keepers as a single set –
QAnon – QAnon originated in 2017 as an exceptionally bizarre conspiracy theory, centered around the premise that the country is run by a cabal of pedophiles whom Trump is bringing down. It has since morphed into something even stranger. More than a single conspiracy theory, QAnon is best regarded as a general-purpose conspiracy infrastructure, spreading lies across a range of subjects, from coronavirus denial to mask and vaccine skepticism and, now, to a grab bag of theories about election fraud.
The Oath Keepers are an anti-government, pro-gun militia composed largely of former law enforcement and military veterans “who believe that the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights,” according to the F.B.I. The name of the Three Percenters, an anti-government group, is a reference to the purported 3 percent of the American colonial population that rose up to fight the British Army in the Revolution.
According to Wikipedia, The Proud Boys is a far-right, neo-fascist, and male-only political organization that promotes and engages in political violence in the United States and Canada.
On the other end of the spectrum, is Antifa. Antifa stands for anti fascism, its a far left movement which opposes racial discrimination. Excerpts from NY Times below –
Antifa, a contraction of the phrase “anti-fascist,” is not an organization with a leader, a defined structure or membership roles. Rather, Antifa is more of a loose movement of activists whose followers share some philosophies and tactics. They have made their presence known at protests around the country in recent years, including the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
Pew Research, as well as other credible sources have long back documented the ‘Ghost Cities’ of China. According to some estimates, almost 100 such cities exist in China, by another estimate, these numbers stretch to 600.
What are Ghost Cities? Ghost Cities are cities that are unoccupied by over 80%.
Irrespective, there is a significant investment that flows into the making of cities. If i may guess, a city may almost have over 10,000 structures of differing sizes catering to different economic strata. In addition to foundational infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water, and other utilities, there is an adequate dispersal of varied shopping complexes, play grounds, social events etc. Each city was built with a vision of migrating the rural labor to the city. If i guess rightly, at least a few 100 billion dollars are gone into the making of such cities. If you count the lower estimate of 100 ghost cities, and multiply it by 100 billion dollar (Chinese equivalent currency), you may easily see a staggering trillions invested into the making of such EMPTY CITIES.
There are two major issues with such Ghost Cities. First, a huge revenue is invested that is making a bad debt for the infrastructure in China. Yes, agreed, China claims that these infrastructures have boosted their GDP. No doubt about that. However, imagine the GDP is boosted at the cost if bad debt, which is like being on steroids. Second, there is a disconnect between the rural communities and the politburo, planning such boardroom cities.
Let us evaluate the title of the news with a lens. This news, though published un Nikkei Asia, belongs to Caixin, a global Chinese news agency. Such bluster can only come from Chinese controlled media and confluences of similar 100 news makes a stock market sensation that Chinese GDP is growing.
Remember, Chinese economy thrives on global customer base. In general, most economies suffered a hit during the pandemic. Naturally, the customer base has shrunk, and so is Chinese revenue inflow. Can we trust these numbers coming from Chinese Controlled Media?
The new variant of the virus has already spread out to over 45 countries. While scientists are understanding the impact of the mutant variants, what should we do as individuals and societies to counter the potential threat from the virus?
In this article, I have provided an insight on personal and administrative/social preparation that needs attention.
(Word Count 942, reading time 4 -5 minutes).
By now, we all know the virus is mutating, and mutating every few weeks. For those who are not aware of what a mutation is, it is a change in the genetic program embedded within the virus. However, only a few mutations have possible implications on the infectivity, ability to induce severity, response to the drug, and the response to vaccines. All of these are critical for individuals, families, and society in general. Of course, everything is intertwined and ultimately has an impact on the socioeconomic structure. We have seen the devastation of several families. When the virus went on the rampage, we saw how the economies faltered and GDP’s collapse.
Variants and their implications
We all know that the UK, EU, and the US are badly reeling under the virus. Hospital beds and ICU bed availability in many regions are critically stretched, and so are the human resources like HCW. London Mayor Sadik has already implemented a lockdown with punitive citations for overriding the lockdown. Rightly so, despite our freedom mongering and yearning for personal freedom, we ultimately land up with the hospitals.
At least three variants are known with possible implications on the infectivity, severity of the disease, resistance to drugs, and efficacy of the vaccines. N501, B220.127.116.11, D614G and A222 are mainly prevalent in the UK, South Africa, and the EU. All these variants are known to be more contagious than the wild type, that is universally prevalent. Also, a collaborative study between Duke University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sheffield University has revealed that D614G variant is associated with higher viral loads in the upper respiratory tract. As of now, we are not yet sure if there is a variant that exists in LA and other parts of the US that are reeling under the virus. At least 45 countries have so far reported the presence of these new variants as of Jan 10, 2021. The National Laboratories from individual countries are searching for the virus’s existence within their societies and implications if any.
Japanese National Institute of Infectious Disease has similarly identified a new strain after the Japanese Government realized passengers’ arrival with the variant viruses. Naturally, the imposition of a ban on incoming flights from infected countries is the first knee jerk response. Many countries have reimposed the ban on travel from those countries with the presence of this virus. While the respective Governments are working to identify the new virus variants, individuals and the administration should gear up to deal with the increased threat level.
Individually, we all should follow the precautions stringently. Masks, social distancing, and containment strategies such as quarantine are basic. However, never presume that asymptomatic individuals are non-infectious. Research has proven without a doubt that asymptomatics are the ones who are spreading the virus. It goes beyond saying that kids harbor more viruses and remain asymptomatic. Kindergarten and schools can be the potential source of spread. While many schools have opted to go into virtual schooling, it is challenging for the daycare centers to do so. It is best to huddle into your bubble and only interact when it is essential or critical, understanding that those interactions should follow the strictest precautions mentioned above.
Vaccines Vaccines are derived based on a certain genotype of the virus. If the virus changes its structure, the vaccines may have a potential dent in its efficacy. Second, vaccines, even if they are efficacious, may protect only the ones who are vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals may still harbor the virus. Thus, protection has to continue despite vaccines.
City and Corporation Planning – Many cities, especially in South East Asia, are basking and boasting their success with COVID-19. COVID-19, as well all know, can strike back anytime. Complacency is not alone a defunct but also a counterproductive strategy. Europe and other countries undergoing a severe COVID-19 pandemic spike have realized how the spike overstretches the HCW. Doctors are overburdened, and so are the supporting staff.
Realistic modeling of the unfolding second spike is critical. R Naught, which was widely used at the pandemic initiation, has been revealed to have several flaws. It only threw our economy into shambles and society into unrequired chaos. Newer modeling that is closer to realism is the need of the time.
Second, the infrastructure that was propped up during the pandemic’s initial phase helped but was not necessarily sufficient. We need to identify a more long term viable solution to our healthcare services to deal with the virus. Using the same knee jerk response is unlikely to provide an adequate safeguard. Mere lockdowns are too insufficient and, at best knee jerk; we need more than a rational response, now that we know the pandemic better from our recent experience.
Society – Herd Immunity Sweden, the UK, and the US are great examples that serve as potent examples that herd immunity is not enough. It does not offer protection without collateral. The collateral is the death and devastation of an individual with a permanent compromise with residual sequelae on health. Those who survived COVID-19 are physically either compromised in functioning or occasionally rendered dependent on supplemental oxygen.
The only and ultimate panacea would be a natural selection of a haplotype (a genotype) that would be less infective, cause inconsequential disease, and still respond to drugs and vaccines. The emergence of such strains is a natural selection process. The virus will possibly realize that if it has to cohabitate like several other bugs, in a symbiotic relationship with human beings.
Shashank Heda, MD. Dallas, Texas (For COVIDRxExchange, a global nonprofit initiative for disseminating insight and expertise in the care of COVID)