Data from the Phase 3 trial of Covaxin published in Lancet and tweeted by NIH Director Francis S. Collins sparked a torrent of demand in the United States and elsewhere on Twitter for Covaxin.
Bengaluru: China and India respectively account for 18.2% and 17.7% of the world population, or nearly a fifth of the world population each and a comparison of their different management of Covid-19 in political configurations different gives a good overview of how disaster management differs between autocratic and democratic nations. Autocratic China with the civil-military-political merger has imposed a total lockdown on Wuhan with a door-to-door investigation and quarantine by sealing people in their homes to completely wipe out the virus as part of a zero Covid-19 policy. The deaths and suffering of individuals in Wuhan were seen as an essential sacrifice for the common good of the rest of the nation.
A DELAYED AND VERY REGULATED CHINESE RESPONSE: In any autocratic setup, all opposing views are suppressed, especially those that show the Supreme Leader in a bad light. All the problems are blamed on the local leaders who are then punished. Hence the first warnings of a new deadly viral infection and all whistleblowers were cracked down by local leaders fearing sanctions. The late response allowed the disease to spread and the problem was compounded by falsely informing the WHO and the world that there was no human-to-human transmission, no need for masks or a ban on international travel to and from China. Meanwhile, all medical stocks in India and other well-meaning countries have moved as gifts or by import to China. Once the seriousness of the problem became apparent to the highest leadership, the entire civil-military-political system shifted all human and material resources from across the country to deal with the problem, including the establishment of hospitals. temporary and mass production of medical equipment and disposable supplies. These measures flouting all human rights with full and undisputed cooperation of the entire nation were only possible thanks to the merging of civil society with Communist Party officials and the military apparatus and the fear instilled by an extensive monitoring network with severe penalties for any deviation. All subsequent epidemics were controlled in the same way, and the incidence of illness and death was suppressed both actually and statistically. Obviously, this is not an option for democratic nations like India with an open society, a free press and respect for human rights.
AN EARLY INDIAN RESPONSE, INITIALLY CHAOTIC, THEN EFFECTIVE: Taiwan and not the WHO was the first to warn the world of the dangers of this new virus. The Indian prime minister was one of the few world leaders to act early by banning flights to and from China for which he has been severely criticized by China. India has shipped supplies to China and other countries and, in the meantime, has effectively contained the initial outbreak in Kerala state. This was made possible through the early identification and activation of existing local health networks experienced in managing infectious disease outbreaks. Soon, large numbers of visitors and Indians returning from Europe and the Gulf region brought the disease in such numbers that an experienced Indian network ran out of supplies and means to test and treat this new virus in the lack of vaccines was quickly overwhelmed. The world’s largest lockdown of the entire country on short notice in March 2020 led to a mass exodus on foot of migrant workers from the cities that were first affected, to their home states, further spreading the infection and resulting in death from exhaustion. Although the government and others arranged food and shelter for them, and later even transportation, false information on social media led to this panic reaction. These and many other unplanned problems and shortages have caused chaos, misery and preventable loss of life. The economy also took a huge hit until the service industry shifted towards working from home; arrangements have been made to manage essential manufacturing and logistics. Agriculture was affected by labor and logistics issues, but eventually recovered. The second wave, caused by a mutant, struck like a massive tsunami and completely overwhelmed parts of the nation where politics took precedence over cooperation against a common enemy. A well-oiled, centrally-run free vaccination campaign has been derailed by multiple doubts raised about India’s vaccines and the vaccine shortage made worse by demands to let states and private agencies buy vaccines. Social media, some television journalists and opposition parties have spread disinformation, false information, shed light on misery and death to undermine the healthcare system in a desperate attempt to control the pandemic. This has resulted in artificial shortages, exploitation by greedy crooks, unethical practices, violence against health workers and health facilities, reluctance to vaccinate, fear, misery and death. . These death merchants have helped the virus spread and kill. An overwhelmed health system has struggled with shortages, patient management, testing and quarantine, vaccination, data entry, combating disinformation and false propaganda. China and the Western media took full advantage of all of this to poke fun at India, even though India had helped them earlier in their hour of need. The saving grace has been the massive increase in local manufacturing and funding of disposable medical products, equipment, test kits, drugs and vaccines. In addition, the mobilization of all health and frontline workers, as well as the emergency networking of software, applications, laboratories and health facilities, telecommunications and logistics saved India. democratic against thick and thin under a very responsive 24/7 leader who has removed all roadblocks.
DRAFT VACCINES: Mainstream China has mass-produced substandard disposable medical products, medical supplies and vaccines to take advantage of the global misery it has unleashed. As mentioned in a previous article, the Chinese military and CanSinoBIO were the first to file a patent application for a Covid-19 vaccine on March 18, 2020. When Indian or exported vaccines were preferred by many countries, China , aided by many countries the western and indian media waged a concerted campaign to discredit indian vaccines, playing into the hands of the big pharmaceutical companies and delaying the emergency authorization and listing by the WHO. Countries that have used Chinese vaccines have found them to be less effective and are now using other vaccines. MRNA vaccines requiring ultra-cold storage facilities and logistics have been widely used by rich countries. These are based on new technology that was being developed for the treatment of cancer and their long-term performance and safety is not known. Because these vaccines use mRNA to send a message to recipient cells in the body to produce the virus spike protein and then trigger an immune response, they are likely to be less effective if the virus undergoes a mutation that changes its spike protein. . They show a decrease in the immune response within 6 months, requiring booster doses, especially in those with a weak immune response. There is also doubt that messaging the body’s cells to produce a viral protein could expose these cells to immune attack and autoimmune disorders. Stimulation of the immune system against cancer cells is desirable, but not against healthy cells believed to produce viral proteins. There have been many reports of inflammatory disorders like carditis. Covaxin developed by Indian researchers and produced by an Indian company on the basis of time tested attenuated-killed whole virus technology, is therefore effective even if part of the virus mutates and has been shown to be effective against mutants, safe even in children, requiring refrigeration for storage, more durable at room temperature for door-to-door vaccination, and cheaper. Data from the Phase 3 trial of Covaxin published in Lancet on November 11, 2021 and tweeted by NIH Director Francis S. Collins has sparked a torrent of demand in the United States and elsewhere on Twitter for Covaxin.
Dr PS Venkatesh Rao, MBBS (Vellore), MS (Vellore), DNB, FRCS (Glasg), FACS, FICS, FMAS, FAES is a consultant in endocrine, breast and laparoscopic surgery.