AIMS Chief, Dr. Randeep Guleria, believes that the country was caught "off-guard" by the Covid-19 second wave
India's top physician has acknowledged that the country was caught "off -guard" in anticipating the second deadly wave of Covid-19, but other factors also contributed to the massive surge of the disease.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, head of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) told NDTV that the impending arrival of vaccines and the steady drop in the cases during the first wave created a false impression that victory against Covid-19 was not far away.
"We felt confident because vaccines were coming, and cases were falling… thought Covid won't be a problem. So, a lot of people ignored Covid behaviour… and did not really factor in infectiousness of the new strains, that it could mutate and spread like wildfire in our population.”
Talking about herd immunity, he said, “We have this feeling of 'herd immunity' without realising that if the virus changes that immunity is not of much use."
Further, the deluge of new cases daily meant that hospitals had less time to turnaround beds so new patients could be admitted, and doctors had less time to treat every patient.
Discussing the oxygen situation, Guleria wanted a "central command" to be established , which would coordinate supply and ensure backup and thereby save lives.
While stating that the expected peaks will vary from region to region, he was concerned about the eastern region. He pointed at West Bengal which was registering a large number of cases on a daily basis.
Referring to the death of 12 persons in Batra Hospital, including a doctor, as the hospital ran out of oxygen he said: "That (the 12 deaths) drives home the point we need to be aggressive in containing the virus… healthcare infrastructure and workers are stretched to the limit.”