COVID-19 vaccine
COVID vaccine Image Credit: AP

COVID-19 vaccination in India

India’s COVID-19 story is panning out in two directions currently (“Tears and fears as India’s huge COVID-19 vaccine push falters, Gulf News, January 24”) . The number of active and daily new cases are trending downwards, and the vaccines administered are charting upwards. Thirteen days into the vaccination programme, the country has inoculated 2.9 million frontline and healthcare workers against the novel coronavirus. India has seen over 10 million COVID-19 cases and over 150,000 people have lost the infection. The government has identified 30 million frontline workers to vaccinate in the first phase, but the drive has been slow to pick up because of vaccine hesitancy and technical glitches. It will take people time before they are comfortable with a new vaccine. These people should be encouraged but not threatened or forced via mandates that undermine confidence. It also plans to vaccinate a total of 300 million Indians by August, focusing on vulnerable groups of people aged over 50, and those with comorbidities. For that to happen, India will need to pick up pace in the coming days and weeks.

From Mr Tarun Mishra

UAE

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Many Indians are thrilled that we could vaccinate three million Indians within 13 days, at the rate of about 230,769 per day. And as of now, only health workers are being inoculated in India. At this rate, vaccinating 1.4 billion people will take India over 16 years. Quite simply, India is one of the world's largest nations and has to adopt a different yardstick. India should aim at two million vaccinations per day. Then, we can inoculate a billion people in 1.4 years. However, the challenge will be to augment vaccinations from 230,769 per day to 2 million per day, almost nine times the current rate. This can be done with some granular planning. Vaccinating a vast country like India will require unprecedented levels of urgency, energy and commitment.

From Mr Rajendra Aneja

India

ICC umpire appointments

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced International Cricket Council (ICC) to appoint home umpires during the recent Test series in different countries. Likewise, the forthcoming Test series against England, too, will be supervised by Indian umpires. The ICC match referee could also be an Indian. Hope the Indian umpires and match referees would prove to be the best in the world, as there have been some controversial decisions during our tour Down Under. We hope that the ICC would review the Leg Before Wicket (LBW) decisions, which is upheld purely based on the field umpire verdict, which has time and again proved to be faulty. They have called "not out" even to a ball hitting the top of stumps and bails, whereas the ball could dislodge the bails and bowl out the batsmen. Hence the "Umpires’ Call" should have to be reviewed by ICC panel.

From Mr N V Krishnan

India

The final wish…

Often, I have thought deeply about the last desires and final wishes of a dying person. They haunt me and make me think about what might have been their state of mind in their ultimate moments. My mind boggles when I try to figure it out. I have thought genuinely about the last moments of the three most beloved and prominent people in my life. The first person with a profound impact on my mind is my dad. He died of cancer. He was diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent an operation to remove the tumour and also underwent chemotherapy. The last few weeks of his life, he spent at home. He was a courageous man. He never showed his pain or worries to us. He knew that we would break. He always wanted us to be fearless. When his last night came, he was a bit restless. He sweated a lot. Whenever I tried to wipe his sweat, he just gave me a brilliant smile as though he was undergoing no anxiety. There was no dread in his eyes. Whenever my sister called out to him, he looked at her and grinned as though he had led a happy life and was ready to leave. He died without any struggle or panic. When I stared at him, his face shone like a sun, and an unknown tranquillity filled his face. I failed to understand what went through him when he bade his final goodbye, by looking at us one last time. Didn’t he wish to live a few more years for his princesses? Didn’t the fright of going to an unknown zone haunt him? Didn’t he wonder who would protect his daughters now? I go numb thinking of all these things.

The next person who boggles my mind is my mum. She loved me the most in this world. And why not? She knew me and loved me nine months before the world saw me. She was my first love, too. The love, care, and safety that I felt when I was with her, I felt nowhere else. I remember the day she was admitted to the hospital. She was healthy. She just complained of giddiness and was treated for being anaemic. Blood was transfused in her body. I was far from her, and I could not reach her because of the lockdown. When I called her a few hours before she left me forever, her words still echo and ring in my mind. She said that she was fine and just lacked hemoglobin in the blood. After the blood transfusion, she would be fine. She asked me not to worry about her. Her voice, though weak, was filled with confidence, and that gave me courage.

My mum could endure anything in this world except for my tears. My tears tore her down. After a few hours, my brother called me and said that my mum was not responding to anything. Her blood pressure was dropping. She was in the intensive care unit. I asked him to place his phone near her ears. I started crying that she could not cheat me by leaving me like this. She had to come back for my sake. I wonder what was going through my mom then? Was she listening to me? I know she must have craved for that last glimpse of me.

Lastly, the person who left me after mom was my uncle. He was dear to me. He was young and was admitted to the hospital because of the deadly COVID-19. Later, my other uncles (his brothers) and his wife were admitted for the same. His condition worsened, and he was shifted to the ICU, where he stayed for nearly a week. Every day, two to three corpses came out of that room where he was lying. I wonder what he might have felt seeing them die. Watching someone sick makes us ill, but watching someone die when you are in the same condition might discourage the mind and heart further. Finally, he, too, succumbed to that dreaded disease. He was alone in that room. A door separated him from his dear ones. When his ultimate moment came, what did he feel? How much might he have been craving for that last glimpse of his family? His eyes might have wandered everywhere to catch a sight of them. His voice might have come up to his throat to call out to them. His heart might have craved for that solacing touch so that his soul could flow easily out of his body. What were his last wish and final desire?

All these questions creep into my mind making me restless, and I struggle to come out of this restless state of mind, but I fail. All of us have to go to that unknown, dark zone one day, leaving everything and everybody. What will be that last desire before we close our eyes forever? I fail to comprehend how it feels when we will be unable to fulfill it.

From Ms Noor Tabassum

Fujairah, UAE

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