The lack of clear messaging during a global pandemic

  1. I wash my hands forty times a day, I quadruple mask, and whenever I step outside, I try to maintain twenty feet of social distancing. What else can I do?
Even in close contact, aerosols prove to be the primary mode of transmission
Aerosols dilute over distance and minimise greatly with ventilation
Useful chart that demonstrates risk according to different settings. Outdoors are always safer. http://tinyurl.com/covid-estimator — can make your own here.
  • On combating hesitancy: forwarding articles from the internet is not going to help. Lack of information is not the problem, there is in fact, too much of that already. What’s required is for you, who has read all of these articles, and is now armed with all of the information regarding mRNA, antibody levels, T-cell immunity and efficacy rates, to step up and take responsibility for at least the immediate members of your family. You don’t need to convince the next person on Twitter to get vaccinated, but instead, focus your efforts on getting your grandparents, parents, siblings and hopefully your maid/security guard to get the shot.
Convince your family members. That is the least you can do.
  • At the vaccination site: I have sadly spoken to too many people who fell ill just a few days after getting vaccinated. Before you even think it, no, it was not because of the vaccines themselves. A crowded hospital with hundreds of people queueing up, standing in line for hours together in close proximity with poor ventilation is the ideal setting for the virus to spread easily. What can be done on an individual level, is to prefer government centres that are mostly outdoors, wear an N95 (or at least double mask), minimise the time you have to spend indoors by waiting outside till your turn is due, etc.
Crowded vaccination sites indoors can pose a significant risk.
  • Post-vaccination: once again, I am sure we all know more people than we care to admit who got infected after taking the first dose. While individual case histories might differ, the message that needs underscoring is to take extreme levels of precaution, especially for the initial 3–4 weeks after the first dose. Antibody levels build up over time, so the individual is not sufficiently protected soon after the prime dose. With an increasing scarcity of hospital beds, I feel it is paramount to stay as safe as possible until two weeks after the booster dose, to minimise the risks even further.
  • Getting vaccinated post-COVID: another common question is the need for vaccination if the patient has already recovered from the disease. While it is true that the risk of re-infection is low, the benefits of getting vaccinated are demonstrably high. Studies have shown that this leads to a more robust, well-rounded immunity against the disease, and also lowers the risk of long-COVID complications.
  • Are vaccines even working?: the answer is a resounding yes. You can see it clearly in places like the US, Israel, UAE, Chile, Uruguay, Bhutan, etc. My favourite story of all, however, is from a small city called Serrana in Brazil, where they designed an experiment called Projeto S, to vaccinate all adults with the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine. This one story beautifully refutes all the pseudoscience regarding vaccine efficacy rates as well as scary mutations of concern. The CoronaVac vaccine demonstrated an efficacy of just 50%, and it was matched against the P1 variant in Brazil, which has made enough headlines due to its potential immune-escape as well as being more contagious. What happened next is something you have to read for yourself. (linked below)
We shall get here too. Only a matter of time.
People who test positive are patients too, not merely a statistic.

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Srinath Balakrishnan

Srinath Balakrishnan

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Aspiring to write about the several rabbit holes I find myself burrowing down the internet.