Srinagar, May 29: Jammu and Kashmir’s leading medico and an influenza expert Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan Saturday said that even if any country would succeed in making ant-Covid vaccine, the pandemic may only subside and not vanish completely or die down.
He, was quick to add that the people of J&K will have to learn to live with the pandemic for many years to come. In an exclusive interview with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the flu expert and the Associate Professor Medicines at Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, said that COVID has to stay and it is going to be part of people’s life.
“We need to learn to live with it safely,” Dr Nisar said. “We have to embrace the virus as it is not going to go away. Even if a vaccine will come or a drug will be introduced, which seems far away, and even if both will come, the virus is still going to stay.
This is the 5th Coronavirus as earlier, there were already four pandemics J&K has witnessed in the past wherein we have seen that even when the pandemic went off or faded away, it existed in the society though with less impact.”
Dr Nisar said that swine flu of 2009 is a case in point. “Its epicentre was in Mexico. World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with a vaccine almost nine months after the pandemic. People got vaccine shots. But the virus continues to stay as H1N1 cases do report to hospitals in Kashmir in winter months,” he said.
“Cases of Swine Flu keep on coming to the hospitals despite the fact vaccine against it is available and people have got the shots. It’s called a seasonal flu now a days.”
Talking about the worst ever pandemic of 1918 also known as Spanish flu, which consumed over a 100 million people. “People believe 2009 (swine flu) was the dissident of the Spanish flu. Despite vaccines and medicines to cure it, the virus stayed
We saw re-emergence of Spanish flu into H2 N2 also known as Hong Kong flu and even H3N2. These viruses are circulating among people of Kashmir in the form of common cold,” Dr Nisar said told KNO. “One of the epidemic called as small pox died down after a vaccine was found, but that’s an exception.”
The doctor said that Covid-19 has behaved different in different countries and regions. “In Kashmir, it has behaved very mildly so far as none died on roads and there is no mass deaths like we saw in Italy, US and China.
He said there are two ways when end of pandemic is announced—one is medically, scientifically and when cases start declining fast. “Past viruses took a few years to see decline. Similarly, in the present case, it will also take some to decline. Remember I am talking about decline not that the virus would die down,” Dr Nisar said
He, however, stressed that now that it is clear the virus will stay, people should not be kept indoors anymore. “There is an economic disaster due to the pandemic and there is a livelihood issue too,” he said.
“In 1918 pandemic, more people were killed with the primitive setup. There was lockdown that time too. But when cases declined, people came out of homes and mixed up with each and then there was a resurgence again and more people died than the phase one.”
Dr Nisar said J&K government is on a right track by doing aggressive testing, isolating people and asking people to maintain social distancing. “But at the same time people have to resume life. There will be a double edged sword for the people,” he said. “You can’t keep people indoors every time.”
He, however, made it clear that when the people would come out, they will catch the disease for sure. “They will get anti-bodies and get immune too,” he said. “The trend is that if 50 per cent of the people would get infected, they will recover too.
By easing out the restrictions, the virus will change a bit and can be more lethal as happened in 1918. There can be more fatalities that’s why I say people will see double edged sword hanging around their neck.”
The flu expert said in Kashmir, people are going to fields, shops are reopening and people are moving back to work in offices etc and civil secretariat is also functioning. “So cases may rise and that’s quite expected,” he told KNO
“Amid easing restrictions, we have to keep isolating the people. The behaviour of virus in Kashmir is very mild. That may be because of biology of Kashmiris. People of Kashmir have been living with large spells of common cold etc.” He stressed while moving ahead with the virus, mass testing, isolating people and maintain social distancing holds the key—(KNO)