Kudos Meghalaya Govt!  

Editor,

The aviation sector had resumed operations after a frustrating hiatus of 2 months. The threat of the virus was rising exponentially in Mumbai and I decided to come back home. However, a few factors made me pause and contemplate – particularly the travelling guidelines. Meghalaya had laid down some strict protocols for returnees – We could go home only after our reports were out and after serving our 14 – days Quarantine (in case home Quarantine wasn’t feasible). I wondered how difficult would the situation be? What would be the quality of facilities provided? Yes, I was indeed very apprehensive as I had witnessed online the pathetic conditions of Quarantine and Observation centers across India. But I had to return and I took the leap of faith, with fingers crossed and a hopeful heart.

On arrival, a bus migrated us from Guwahati Airport to IIM Shillong where we were kept under observation for 4 days until our reports were out. Once negative, we were shifted to respective Institutions for 14 – days Quarantine.

I came back home a few days ago. I look back at how worried I was initially of the lengthy travel and Quarantine period. And now, I cherish at how comfortable the entire stay and journey has been. I would like to earnestly thank the Meghalaya Government. You’ve done a splendid job! Be it the bus journey, the stay at IIM Shillong or the stay at Hotel Barbareek (my Quarantine center), I didn’t face discomfort at any stage. We were provided with proper amenities, hygienic food and standardized accommodation and all of this contained an icing of extreme kindness from each personnel involved.

Today as I write this, we have less than 50 confirmed cases out of which just 5 are active. I won’t be wrong in saying that our Government has done the best amongst all states in India. Yes, we are a small state which makes management easier compared to other densely populated states. But then, there are similar sized states in the North-East whose numbers are surging each day!

Whilst bringing back residents, any government is expected to put in optimum efforts on two parameters – containing the spread of virus and ensuring the returnees are not affected adversely. Meghalaya Government you have superbly ensured that both are achieved. Keep up the good work. Hoping the other states take a leaf out of Meghalaya’s Book!

Your etc.,

Karan Sharma,

Via email

Vaccine nationalism

Editor,

The   discovery  of  a  vaccine  for  COVID-19  is  central  to  global  efforts  to  restart  economies.  However,  there are serious doubts about  whether countries  will  act  in  their  narrow  self-interest  or  adopt  a  collaborative,  global  approach.  Several vaccines  are in  the  testing  stage  and  considerable  effort  costing  billions  of  dollars  and  using  complex  logistics  will  be  required  to  develop,  manufacture  and distribute  the  vaccine  worldwide.  The  intense  and  growing  rivalry  between  the  US  and  China,  and  the  subsequent  rise  of  nationalism  and  failure  of  multilateralism  is  making  the  outbreak  of  COVID-19  and  the  need  for  a  vaccine  extremely  complicated.  European  countries  and  the  WHO  are  in  favour  of  the  multilateral  option.  But the US and China are  against  it.

China  and  the  US  are  using  huge  resources  to  become  the  first  to  develop  a  vaccine.  US  President  Trump  has  launched  Operation  Warp  Speed,  a  public-private  partnership  that  aims  to  make  millions  of  doses  available  in  the  US  by  the  end  of  the  year.  China  too  is  trying  its best.  A  few  candidate  vaccines  currently  in  clinical  evaluation,  come  from  China.  The  country  views  this  not  only  as  a  matter  of  national  pride  but  also  important  for  their  own  health.  If  China  succeeds  in  developing  the  vaccine  before  the  US,  it  will  help  them  get  their  economy  fully  more open   than  the  US  and   other  countries.

However,  many  global  health  advocates  are  of  the  view  that  vaccine nationalism  is  not  the  right  way  to  reduce  transmission  globally.  Instead  of  working    together  to  craft  and  implement  a  global  strategy,  a  growing  number  of  countries  are  taking  a  “my  nation  first”  approach  to  developing  a  vaccine.   This  “vaccine  nationalism”  is  not  only  morally  bad,  it  is  against  the  interests  of  all the  other  countries   that  are  not  successful  in  their  attempts  to  develop  a  vaccine.  If  countries  with  a  large  number  of  infection  cases  lag  in  obtaining  the  vaccine  and  other  medicines,  the  disease  will  continue  to  disrupt  global  supply  chains  and  economies  around  the  world.  Experts  should  take  the  lead  in  devising  and  implementing  science-based  strategies  to  reduce  the  risks  that  COVID-19  poses  to  the  most  vulnerable  across  the  world  and  reduce  transmission.  We  need  a  centralised  governance  system  to  ensure  the  appropriate  flow  of  capital,  information  and  supplies.  We have organizations  to distribute   COVID-19 vaccine  effectively.   All    countries   must   understand  that  the  lives  of  the  people of all  countries  are  equally  important.  All  countries  must  understand  that  it  is  the  virus,  not  each  other,  that  is  their  enemy.  A  vaccine  developed  must  be  used  to  save  the  lives  of  people  all  over  the  world;  not  only  that   of     some  countries.  A  vaccine  will  save  the  lives  of  millions  but  our  attitude   must  change  first. All  countries must  ensure timely,  equitable  global  access  to  the  vaccine.

 

Yours  etc.,

Venu GS,

Via  email

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