As death rates in India get higher, one doctor with family in Gujarat chats COVID complacency

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  • Yesterday, almost 4,000 people died in the space of a day, with 382,315 cases reported.

    It’s no news that the rates of Covid in India are at their highest ever.

    Yesterday, almost 4,000 people died in the space of a day, and 382,315 cases were reported. Sadly, it’s not a one-off – daily infections have been higher than 300,000 every day for the past two weeks now, and those figures are only rising.

    It tops the UK’s red list of banned countries, with officials saying that the actual figures could be far higher than official records currently indicate.

    It’s heartbreaking to watch it unfold, and even more so for those with family in India. We’ve spoken to doctor Chintal Patel, an NHS General Practitioner with family in Gujarat herself. Throughout the pandemic, she’s been working on the front line caring for patients in London, and is part of Team Halo, an initiative to address vaccine hesitancy online.

    A doctor on the situation in India and COVID complacency 

    “My heart goes out to the people of India and to those with family and friends here who feel helpless. I am deeply saddened by the harrowing images online and seeing people struggling to access healthcare, being turned away from aid, and dying in the streets. Having treatment in the back of a rickshaw is inhumane.”

    “I am worried for my family. I am worried that this is not even at the height of the peak and that the worst is yet to come.”

    “A few weeks ago my uncle who lives in Gujarat, West India was hospitalised with Covid and spent some time in intensive care. We were lucky he was able to access care at the time and he is now home recovering. Had he got unwell now, I am not sure what would have happened.”

    I remember how warm and welcoming everyone was

    “India is a place so close to my heart. One of my fondest memories is spending a month during my medical school elective volunteering in a United Nations funded leprosy mission hospital. We worked with a group of people who had been shunned by their families or communities due to their disabilities and disfigurements. I remember how warm and welcoming everyone was. The hospital and facilities were limited, yet they made it work.”

    “I have travelled across many parts of India including Gujarat, Goa, Mumbai and Delhi. We had planned to take our children travelling to South India next year to show them what a beautiful country it is.”

    COVID in India: Doctor Chintal Patel

    Covid-19 is a global pandemic that needs a global effort to end

    “Covid-19 is a global pandemic that needs an international global effort to end. We won’t be safe until everyone is safe. The global inequality in vaccine access is very real. The gap between the number of vaccines administered in richer countries compared to poorer countries is growing every day. Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and until we are able to work together to ensure the whole world has access to vaccines we will not beat Covid.”

    “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic”

    “The last year has been tough for everyone. Working in the NHS at the start of the pandemic, I was worried about bringing Covid home to my family when PPE was not sufficient. A huge positive has been the vaccination roll out in the UK. I have been volunteering in one of London’s large vaccination centres. The whole process is super efficient and there is a real sense of positivity and camaraderie within the team, most of whom, like me, are volunteers giving up their time to play their part.”

    People are tired of long standing restrictions

    “Restrictions are continuing to take their toll. I am certainly seeing COVID complacency and fatigue. People are tired of long standing restrictions and keen to resume ‘normal’ life again.”

    “I’m not sure those who are complacent understand the science and why it is important to not let our guard down too early. This makes me even more passionate about working with Team Halo, making videos on TikTok to dispel myths and misinformation about Covid-19, to share evidence based information and address vaccine concerns and hesitancy.”

    “I’m not sure those who are complacent understand why it’s so important to not let our guard down too early.”

    “It’s great to engage with those who have genuine questions about taking the vaccine and to say ‘it’s ok to have concerns, be it about fertility, blood clots, or the vaccine side effects, but we are here with the facts’.”

    “We hope that as a global team of scientists and doctors volunteering our time to make these videos that people hanging out on social media will come for the fun but stay for the facts. We need to meet people where they are, and if that means hanging out on social media following some TikTok trends but helping to get the message across, I’m happy to take part.

    “The situation in India has shown us that now, more than ever, we cannot be complacent.”

    What is Covid complacency?

    According to the Cambridge dictionary, ‘complacency’ refers to “a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder.”

    In relation to the pandemic, Covid complacency simply refers to the people relaxing their social distancing and following of current lockdown guidelines because of general lethargy after over a year of being locked down.

    In February, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that complacency is just as dangerous as the virus itself—so do act responsibly and remember, it’s not over yet.

     

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