“We, the humans, are a very frustrating lot”, said a writer. For, as a species, we are erratic, talented, magnificent, creative, arbitrary, snitty, loving, aggressive and what not!
However, erratic we might be, there is still value in our interactions with others. No doubt, every life has to end in death. But it doesn’t mean our life has no meaning. Its value and meaning squarely rest on the way in which we interact with people around us and how their lives have been affected by our interaction. And in that good effect which changed their lives for better, that we gain a sort of immortality!
Think of the people who were affected by the Coronavirus pandemic: Globally 270 million people were said to have been affected by the coronavirus and more than 5 million—a figure said to be a “gross underestimate”— were dead. Think of your neighbours, friends, relatives, and others, and evaluate how your covid-appropriate or -inappropriate behaviour would affect their lives in the light of the emergence of a new variant of Coronavirus, Omicron.
Reports indicate that Omicron is advancing around the world at an astonishing rate. A study in the UK revealed that each infection of Omicron tends to produce at least three more. As against Delta’s doubling time of 11 days to two weeks, Omicron is reported to be needing hardly three days. This exponential growth, which is currently noticed in the UK, is certainly dizzying. Scientists fear that with a spread of this kind, Omicron is sure to replace Delta, the variant that is currently causing havoc globally, soon.
Still worse is, that the risk of breakthrough infections — reinfections or infections among the vaccinated— appears to be three times higher with Omicron. Lab tests reveal a significant decrease in vaccine-derived antibodies’ ability to control Omicron, said Fauci, the Chief Medical Advisor to the US President. But within a month of a booster shot, antibody protection appeared to have significantly improved.
The only good news, if any, is - evidence is building up towards omicron infections being less severe. Experiences in South Africa and the UK indicate fewer hospitalizations, comparatively, fewer days of stay in hospitals, and less need for supplemental Oxygen. According to Fauci, the data from the UK “very strongly suggestive of less severity compared to Delta”.
A similar phenomenon is reported from India too. According to a report of ICMR, of the 358 cases of the Omicron reported from India, nearly half were found to be fully vaccinated. None of those evaluated had severe disease symptoms. Nearly 73% of them were marked as ‘asymptomatic’. Of them, 60% were men.
Regarding booster shots, Indian vaccinologists are still examining the data on the efficacy of various vaccines and how persistent antibody levels were. It is hoped that once culturing of the Omicron variant, which is said to be harder vis-à-vis earlier variants, is mastered, its impact on the efficacy of Covaxin and Coveshield could be evaluated rightly and then a decision can perhaps, be taken on the booster shots.
As the matter stands, it is clear that the “virus is tough to control”, for a third of those infected are asymptomatic and 60% of infections are reported from those who are symptom-free. So, the way forward is complete vaccination of the people globally. This is a long-drawn process.
In the meanwhile, if we have to protect ourselves from Omicron what we need to do is: Adopt other mitigation methods such as wearing masks, hand hygiene, and maintaining appropriate distance from each other. It is here that ‘belief’ comes to play a significant role. For, belief is the essential component of the coping mechanism of humans with the world around them.
What then, is this ‘belief’, and what effect it has on our behaviour? Belief can perhaps be defined as “any set of perceptions which are sustained by a person as a consistent attitude or view and which extend beyond any factual information available, or even contrary to relevant factual information.”
Belief thus becomes central to our behaviour. So, think of your friends, relatives who, craving for oxygen in or outside hospitals, lost their lives during the second wave of the pandemic. And this thinking about your lost friends, relatives, neighbours is sure to ignite a question: “If we make a mess of our own world, who is there to come to our rescue?”
If we do not behave the way it is required of us to arrest the spread of Omicron, who would save us from it? This belief-driven behaviour alone is likely to make the lives of all those about whom you care safe and secure. If we all collectively behave, Omicron’s impact can be put in check. So, let us believe in Covid-appropriate behaviour and interact with society accordingly to make our lives more meaningful.