By Rafia Haider
KARACHI, Sep 02 (APP): It was difficult for Mrs. Azra Rizvi to believe that she or her husband could be the reason for their eight year old son Arham’s Delta positivity, that too because they could not convince themselves of getting vaccinated against coronavirus.
Realizing that they did not ever care for use of masks, hand hygiene and social distance to help protect themselves as well as all those around, immunized or not but vulnerable to the viral infection with its varied strains was definitely all the more painful for her .
Rizvis are just a name for a sizable group of people still to realize severity and sensitivity of the situation enhancing their own risks and also those around them to Delta variant, the most infectious and dominant strain of Covid presently registered in most parts of the world including Pakistan, largely due to community spread.
In the given backdrop the efforts underway across the country to vaccinate no less than 70 percent of 119 million above 18 population against Covid -19 in next six months and expected phase wise coverage expansion to the lower age groups, including 17 years to 18 years from September one, is all the more appreciable as Delta with all its virulence and high transmissibility, is registered infecting more of the young adults.
The government efforts do sound ambitious yet strategies being adopted have definitely ignited hope that the transmission of Covid-19 and its variants could be contained, paving way for reduced chances of infection among people in general and those with low resistance (due to age) and / or compromised immunity mainly due to non-communicable diseases.
Need not to ignore that none of the available Covid – 19 vaccines offer 100 percent immunity against any of its variants and those inoculated can be found re-infected, concerned officials as well as doctors talking to APP repeatedly mentioned that no less than 80 percent of the coronavirus infected people reaching hospitals for want of urgent interventions had never received jabs of any of the vaccines against viral infection.
“A significant number of those tested Delta positive, with no coronavirus vaccine history, had to be put on ventilators or be placed on bed with oxygen facility at different dedicated healthcare facilities established under emergency conditions,” said Dr. Samreen Zaidi associated with Sindh Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Pakistan braving the fourth wave amidst a difficult situation where a single Delta carrier can infect even eight others that too at a much higher pace demands optimum vaccination of all eligible age groups as well as proper and across the board application of essential social tools to prevent chances of infection for which experts suggest a robust public health education program focused on community based prevention and protection strategies.
This is all the more relevant as Delta, more virulent and contagious than other strains of coronavirus, is a threat for many of the kids and young adults, however, the challenge faced even in the developed world is their being asymptomatic and reaching hospitals only after developing severity of the ailment. The countries thus reached a concerted decision to introduce vaccines, with tested efficacy for children above 12 years.
Fortunately in the local context children tested positive for the infection on the basis of their respective doctors’ suspicion (not comfortable with the symptoms common cold, congestion, fever)
a significant majority were successfully isolated at home and reported with safe recovery.
In a higher number of cases the condition was also found to be self limiting. However, in the absence of capacities to ensure that all corona cases are registered and follow-up is maintained, exact status can not be determined.
In most of the countries with proper systems in place and where situation had been real bad till recent past ,the children, along with adults, are not only being administered Covid-19 mRNA vaccine but this is also being strongly supplemented by mandatory use of masks and other relevant preventions leading towards successful containment of infection rate and resuming new normal lives that does include regular schooling.
“Children simply can not afford the risk and it is our collective responsibility to ensure their safety as we the adults owe a healthy future to our children, commented Dr. Sultan working for one of the major charitable hospitals.
Mentioning that coronavirus could be found even among the neonates, the oncologist mentioned that Delta variant has particularly affected pregnant ladies, apparently those who did not get themselves vaccinated due to lack of proper knowledge .
The two lady doctors, specialists in their respective fields of medicine regretted the fact being ignored was that Covid 19 was casting its much severe implications on behavioral and psychological health of children manifested in the form of screen addiction, lack of discipline, restlessness and even weight gain with its side effects on their entire personality.