Let’s eliminate Covid-19 in 2022 | Sunday Observer

Let’s eliminate Covid-19 in 2022

9 January, 2022

Sri Lanka has been on a journey with the coronavirus for more than two years. The virus has affected not only Sri Lanka but globally as well, and it is still the same. The effects of the virus were socialised across a variety of perspectives. They can be classified as socially, economically, politically, and culturally.

People lost people. Bonds were broken. We all had to behave like outsiders in our own homes. Parents were unable to see their children’s dead bodies and children were unable to see their parents’ dead bodies. The cremation of loved ones could not be done properly. In addition to the clothes we wear every day, we had to put on face masks.

Each had to carry a sanitiser in addition to their daily used bags. Economically, people were deteriorating. They were unable to carry out their day-to-day business activities properly. Politically, the political parties clashed with each other. The whole country has changed in this way. The past two years have been a roller coaster ride for all of us.

Not only in Sri Lanka, but the whole world was caught up in this situation. The whole world had to step back due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global economy collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tourism, one of the world’s leading economic avenues, collapsed due to travel restrictions and the closing of public places, including travel attractions.

Airlines cancelled flights, and train stations and ferry ports were closed. International mail was stopped and delayed. The retail sector has faced reductions in store hours or closures.

Due to this pandemic, shopping centres and malls were closed. There was a huge loss due to the halt in the import and export processes of the countries. With the rise of the Coronavirus, shopping festivals, musical shows, and sporting events were banned around the world and it caused a huge loss.

Anyone who looks at the latest reports and statistics released last year by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for the past year will understand the impact even in the developed countries of the world. This is the reason for the current issues in Sri Lanka. A country with such a background should have come out of the slump, but the opposite happened. The country’s main Opposition and opposition groups in the country jointly activated various agitations and protests in the country rather than supporting the ruling party to rebuild the country.

Everyone has the right to protest to achieve their rights. But they must be implemented at the right time.

At a time when children’s education was collapsing, teachers were protesting instead of providing education online. Despite the spread of the coronavirus, they headed to the streets and protested. During this critical period, not only the teachers, but also the farmers, did the same thing. We could see strikes in various sectors, like health and the railway. It is not only working people who have no money, but the whole country. But this is not what it should be.

At a time when the world economy has collapsed, it is the responsibility of the people to endure all this and rise as a nation.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the best decision to be taken as a Government has already been taken. That is to stop importing non-essential items, remove unnecessary expenses, and import enough vaccines for the people of the country. That was the best thing to do at that time. But the people could not understand this.

At least the country’s opponents had no idea about that. What the Opposition and other parties are doing together is stirring up the people without any support for the Government. The Government should not be responsible for sacrificing the other necessities of the people to spend on necessities at a time of need.

When we inquired about the Covid-19 updates from Dr. Nadisha Badanasinghe, who is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Medical Microbiology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Kelaniya, we got a clear understanding of the current situation of Covid-19.

Q: What is the current situation in Covid-19 globally and locally?

A. Globally the Covid-19 case numbers are increasing each day. Recently, the workers of a Polar Station, which is the most remote place on earth in Antarctica, have been infected with Covid-19. So the coronavirus is still spreading. Globally the region of America has the highest reported number of cases with over a hundred million. The region of Europe reported nearly 98 million cases. Sri Lanka is in the South East Asian region, and the third most affected in the region. In Sri Lanka, as of last week, more than 589,479 Covid-19 cases have been reported with12, 000 active cases, 15,000 deaths, and more than 500,000 recovered cases.

Last month, a very high number of cases were reported in the region of America and the region of Europe, most probably due to the Omicron variant. But in the region of South East Asia, it has no huge number of cases. But the Omicron variant has been reported in eight countries, including Sri Lanka. There are nearly 40 cases, and they have been found mainly in overseas returners. The Omicron variant is not as widespread in Sri Lanka as the Delta variant. But the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly in India as well. Several cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, have been locked down, and the first death caused by the Omicron was reported last week.

Q: What are Omicron and vaccination?

A. The Omicron variant was recognised in November last year. This is a structurally different virus. It is a more highly transmissible and highly inflectional variant than the Delta Variant. Omicron is spreading faster than Delta. At present the Omicron is the dominant variant, where before the Delta variant was widespread. According to preliminary studies, the Omicron has less chance of developing severe diseases. It has a less chance of developing lung inflammation, lung infection, complications, and severe disease. The virulence of the Omicron is less than that of the other variants. It is not exactly known since research is still going on.

According to the current reports, the Omicron variant is more likely to spread faster than the other variants. Even though it is a less severe disease, the disease burden is higher as it spreads rapidly because it is a highly transmissible variant. Then, however, a certain proportion has to be hospitalised and they have to be given ICU care. Then the disease burden can become unbearable. So that’s why it is highly recommended that the program of vaccination is a preventive measure.

According to studies, it has been found that through vaccination we can get a good immune response because the Omicron variant is structurally different from other variants, but later, as for the latest studies, it has been found that through vaccination we can get a good immune response even after natural infection. Through studies, it has been shown that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has a good immune response for the Omicron variant for a long time. The reason for not having severe cases around the world is Covid-19 vaccination. It is one of the major reasons.

Q: How important is vaccination?

A. According to the studies, it has been found that by vaccinating, we can get a good immune response. The reason for the less severe disease from the Omicron variant is that the majority of the population has been vaccinated. So the vaccination programs should be continued. Sri Lanka is a country where successful vaccination programs have been implemented. We have had a highly effective children’s vaccination program.

We have achieved the vaccination coverage and completed the target set by WHO. More than 62 percent are totally vaccinated across the country. At least one dose has been taken by 72 percent but unfortunately, only about four million have taken the third booster.

We have already given one dose to around 16 million people, and about 14 million people have been fully vaccinated. But still, only four million have taken the third booster, and we are still continuing the vaccination program. We can get the best results from the vaccination, and there are no major side effects. No matter how Omicron spreads, it can stop severe infections. Therefore, the program of giving the third booster should be continued.

Our immune response slows down after about six months of our first and second doses. Now we are actually 6 months closer or later. Now is the time when this immunity is declining. That’s why we are giving the third booster.

Therefore, the booster vaccine must be taken. The booster vaccine boosts our immunity again, bringing the quantity of antibodies back to a good level. So this is the right time to get the third booster.

The reports that we have taken so far didn’t mention any risky or major side effects, except for minor effects. So, without being fooled by rumors, we should definitely get vaccinated to boost our immunity.

So then we can prevent the severe infections even though the disease has spread.

Q: Do we have to go for a fourth booster?

A. Most countries vaccinate against influenza once a year. So if the coronavirus continues, we’ll have to go back to a booster. It is still being researched how long we can stay after the booster vaccination, and then if the immune response is weakened and the coronavirus spreads rapidly and stays in society, we have to go back to a booster jab. But we can’t say that exactly.

Q: What can we do to prevent Covid-19?

A. Everyone has a responsibility to protect themselves. It protects our family, the environment we live in, and then society. It is a big responsibility of ours to take maximum precautions. We should all be vaccinated because it costs a huge cost while we are in an economic crisis. We all felt a huge burden by doing all this for more than two years. But the risk is not over yet. So we all have to focus on taking maximum precautions individually. We have to run our offices, tourism, transport, and businesses, so while going about our day to-day life, we all have to keep an eye on preventive measures.

Save yourself first, and then the whole world will be saved. It’s our own responsibility to prevent Covid-19.

Preventing measures:

Get vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn and follow local immunisation guidelines.

Maintain a social distance of at least one meter from people, even if they appear healthier.

Wear a properly fitted face mask to cover your mouth and nose.

Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately and clean your hands regularly.

If you develop symptoms or test positive for Covid-19, self-isolate until you recover.

Make sure your environment is safer. Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings and follow the 3Cs (space that is closed, crowded, or involves close contact).

Always maintain good hygiene.

Get a nutritious meal and drink enough water. Keep your immune system strong. Clean the surfaces that you touch regularly. Rather than pointing the finger at one person or one party, it is our own responsibility to eliminate Covid-19 in 2022.