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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 193-194

Dealing with pandemic of the unvaccinated

Department of Medicine, KG's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission20-Feb-2022
Date of Decision01-May-2022
Date of Acceptance19-Jul-2022
Date of Web Publication30-Aug-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Harish Gupta
Department of Medicine, KG's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmrp.cmrp_21_22

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How to cite this article:
Gupta H. Dealing with pandemic of the unvaccinated. Curr Med Res Pract 2022;12:193-4

How to cite this URL:
Gupta H. Dealing with pandemic of the unvaccinated. Curr Med Res Pract [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 27];12:193-4. Available from: http://www.cmrpjournal.org/text.asp?2022/12/4/193/355199

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that a vaccine would be essential for bringing the pandemic under control. But it's important to emphasise that a vaccine will complement the other tools we have, not replace them.”-Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of World Health Organisation, 16th November 2020.[1]

Dear Editor,

Soman and Rege write their Editorial entitled, 'Omicron, the gentle monster?' on 15th February 2022 in the journal.[2] They emphasise the latest updates about the pandemic-caused by its the latest variant-the Omicron one. Therein inter alia they state that (its) treatment can be prioritised to those at the highest risk of poor outcome. Here for this purpose, the list included the elderly unvaccinated individuals with co-morbidities. Hence, on this point, I have my reservations and I want to express it with its reasoning.

In the beginning of the pandemic since 2020, people died like flies. However, since early 2021, we have highly effective vaccines available. Although these are slightly less effective on the Omicron variant, these reduce the risk of developing critical illness, hospitalisation and death.[3] Despite that, our market is rife with rumours and fake news-leading to several setbacks and chaos.[4] Today, when we have those wonderful mediums of communications which allow us to instantly connect with others; sadly few use that vehicle to spread falsehood, scaremongering and utter lies. Now with availability of Internet, and then of social media, we are connected as never before; but disappointingly instead of expressing solidarity and sympathy with those who suffer, some unscrupulous elements ride on the medium for perverted motives and increasing human misery.

The World Health Organisation realised the significance of the unfolding events with its attendant evils and responded with its social media tools.[5] Similarly, several other credible media organisation, governments and non-governmental organisation are countering misinformation menace at this crucial juncture of history. Nevertheless, it comes as no surprise to me to encounter an individual who has no history and sometimes no interest or desire at getting the vaccine while working at my hospital. I read in newspapers and online news portals how do a few brave, resilient, selfless and on-duty health workers face expletives and sometimes even physical assault when trying to convince an unknown person to get vaccinated.[6] Website run by Oxford University, UK and others show that now there is no dearth of vaccines here and we are even exporting it to other nations.[7] Therefore, now if someone is unvaccinated, scarcity of resources (vaccines) is a highly unlikely cause.

As the vaccine comes in multidose vials, co-operation and active participation of masses is essential to smoothly run the campaign.[8] Only when a minimum of 5 or 10 individuals gather at a site to get vaccinated, the in charge opens a vial lest leftover doses may be wasted. Therefore, if not enough desirous people gather at a health centre, everyone is at loss. Under these circumstances when I examine an unvaccinated patient who is elderly and has comorbidities as mentioned by authors in this Editorial, I wonder about my ethical and moral dilemma. The person did not risk only his own life by his recklessness but of others too. We live in a society where we make a contract to care for others on a mutual sharing basis. Hence, when someone deliberately compromises others safety, why'd one get prioritised treatment over others even when seriously ill; is my poser.

Under these circumstances how to resolve the contradiction of closely looking at one's vital signs due to one's serious illness versus detachment due to his lack of concern for others; I fail to reconcile.[9]

I don't suggest by any extension of imagination to neglect him due to his poor decision making intellect and capacity. However, in real world when everything is limited, all the resources are finite, human resources are paying dearly the price of others' dangerous decision to remain unvaccinated; who'd get priority when down with COVID and needing ventilatory care, I wonder. Punishing someone is the job of fate, one's destiny, coupled with known and unknown forces of nature, and definitely not assigned to us but saving someone is our daily endeavour. When at the end of the day, only one bed is available in an intensive care unit, should the unvaccinated with severe illness get priority over one with not-so-serious-illness and history of vaccination when all the other denominators are same; I dare to ask.

Our world is witnessing rise of right-wing ideology with demonstrations against vaccine mandates at several affluent regions.[10],[11] Simultaneously, some parts of Africa are facing vaccine-shortages due to the lack of robust implementation of Covax programme. These challenges require us to put our heads together to find the best way forward.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Dr Tedros, on Twitter. Available from: https://twitter.com/DrTedros/status/1328290934354796544?s=20&t=jBjm G6M-QKsW7ngVZETdBg. [Last accessed on 2020 Nov 16].  Back to cited text no. 1
Soman R, Rege SV. Omicron, the gentle monster? Curr Med Res Pract 2022;12:1-2. Available from: https://www.cmrpjournal.org/downloadpdf.asp?issn=2352-0817;year=2022;volume=12;issue=1;spage=1;epage=2;aulast=Soman;type=2.  Back to cited text no. 2
Collie S, Champion J, Moultrie H, Bekker LG, Gray G. Effectiveness of BNT162b2 vaccine against omicron variant in South Africa. N Engl J Med 2022;386:494-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Roy S. Fake News on Social Media Leads to Vaccine Hesitancy in Parts of Kolkata. India Today; June 02, 2021. Available from: https://www.indiatoday.in/cities/kolkata/story/fake-news-social-media-vaccine-hesitancy-kolkata-1810021-2021-06-02.  Back to cited text no. 4
ANI. Public Fear of Vaccination: One Attacks Health Worker, another Climbs Tree in Bihar to Avoid COVID Vaccine. Available from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/public-fear-of-vaccination-one-attacks-health-worker-another-climbs-tree-in-bihar-to-avoid- covid-vaccine/videoshow/89012089.cms?from=mdr. [Last accessed on 2022 Jan 20].  Back to cited text no. 6
Coronavirus Vaccinations. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations.  Back to cited text no. 7
Leo L. Smaller Covaxin Vials to Reduce Wastage. Live Mint. Available from: https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/smaller-covaxin-vials-to-reduce-wastage-11611541047060.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 25].  Back to cited text no. 8
Albrecht D. Vaccination, politics and COVID-19 impacts. BMC Public Health 2022;22:96.  Back to cited text no. 10
Gupta H, Nigam N, Kumar S, Kumar A. On changing and challenging landscape of vaccination arena. Indian J Med Spec 2021;12:237-8.  Back to cited text no. 11
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