Kudos Meghalaya Govt!
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!
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.