PACHU MENON, Margao
FOR a country that is globally renowned for products which have a very short lifespan, it is a wonder that novel coronavirus, which emanated from a lab in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province of China, has continued to play havoc with the lives of people for so long! Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s optimism about the nation launching a COVID-19 vaccine by early 2021 should inspire a new hope among Indians who, like the rest of the world, are eagerly waiting for an antidote which could bring them relief from the woes of the coronavirus disease. Nevertheless, this is one sanguine declaration that brings along with it enough skepticism to disturb millions of countrymen who have come to believe that it will take the virus quite some time for it to totally disappear from the face of the earth. Discussions on the infrastructure which needs to be in place to roll out the distribution of the vaccine so that it reaches all the people across the country in the shortest possible time could also take an hiatus for some time, at least till such time that an authentic breakthrough is announced by scientists and all clinical trials are carried out to ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective for public health use. Promises by those in authority could wait till then as otherwise they would fail to have a ring of sincerity about them. By now the populace is attuned to accepting the harsh realities associated with coronavirus and its lethal effects. Hence it would be absurd to feed the public a regular dose of fantasised misinformation about the success achieved by the government in controlling the viral ailment. At the same time however, the news in a section of the press about empty beds in COVID hospitals in the state baffling the medical authorities is like a whiff of fresh air in an otherwise rancid milieu that makes one wrinkle one’s nose in distaste. The medical professionals may hold contrasting opinions about this ‘phenomenon’; but for a layman, the ‘availability of beds’ would suggest a wane in the rapidity of infections. Furthermore, news reports that Salcete has been seeing a sharp decline in the number of COVID cases, and tests, would appear to corroborate this assumption.