Vaccine Tales Part 1 of many

Questions are being posed by all and sundry, about this vaccine for COVID 19. The WhatsApp intelligentsia are at it hammer and tongs. There is a degree of vaccine envy and a frisson of anticipation for those who will become eligible soon (when, is the vexatious question). Apparently the vaccine will not have any effect, if a selfie is not taken while getting vaccinated. A whole new fashion paradigm has come into being, of off shoulder clothing to pose for that mandatory selfie.

Amongst the many gems of wisdom floating around the social media circus, one analogy in response to the oft answered question on vaccine effectiveness struck me as very apt to be shared with due tweaking. The author of the original post is unknown (though maybe with the new Privacy settings on Whatsapp, Facebook knows!).

My recommendation at this juncture on 27 Jan 2021, when vaccines (from different manufacturers) have barely begun to make a dent on the 7 billion plus world population. It might take many years before we even achieve any kind of reasonable coverage . Till then, the best approach is a risk stratified approach to prioritise people in the public health system, while making it commercially available to cater for those who can afford to purchase whatever protection that may be afforded. However, governmental prudence is being exercised in balancing the two requirements at present.

Those who drive cars, wear seatbelts (or at least should irrespective of whether it is compulsory or not, depending on laws of the Land – For info, in India it is compulsory for those in the front seats to wear seat belts when the vehicle is in motion. ) And those who drive two wheelers surely will appreciate the fact that a proper helmet , worn properly with the strap fastened under the chin, will save their lives by minimizing the effect of head injuries.

So now, a properly worn seatbelt in a car and a properly worn helmet for a two wheeler driver, does it afford protection ? A no brainer surely…. the answer has to be Yes .
Just like the COVID vaccineit does afford some protection (going by clinical trials). How much protection, or for how long? To answer that we will have to travel ahead a few years in time to be certain of the answer.

Do seat belts for cars and helmets for two wheelers protect you 100%? –
No they dont protect 100%.
Just like the COVID vaccinePossibly, it would afford some protection (going by clinical trials). How much protection, or for how long? To answer that we will have to travel ahead a few years in time to be certain of the answer.

Do seat belts for cars and helmets for two wheelers prevent you from getting into an accident?
No they dont!
Just like the COVID vaccineit most likely would not prevent you from getting infected by some variant of the virus (going by current knowledge, though we would all like it to prevent infection totally). So what would the vaccine do for you? The body’s immune response would be stimulated and it is hoped that either your infection would be tackled up front and dealt with, or you would develop a milder disease than if you were unvaccinated.

If at all we have an accident while driving a car or a two wheeler, does wearing a seat belt or a helmet reduce severity? –
Yes indeed! It makes sense surely!
Just like the COVID vaccine – If you were to be infected by the nCOV, it most likely would result in a milder disease than if you were unvaccinated.

Does wearing a seat belt or a helmet imply that you drive recklessly and unsafely?
No, absolutely not, unless you have a death wish.
Just like the COVID vaccineEven if you are vaccinated, you still would need to continue to practice COVID Appropriate Behaviour – i.e Wearing of Masks, Avoidance of Crowds, Close Contact and Closed Spaces , Physical distancing and Handwashing , till that point of time in the future when we can be reasonably certain that the threat of infection has diminished totally.

Your health and your safety is literally in your hands.

Wearing a helmet or putting on a seat belt , does it translate into not causing injury to others on the road ?
Obviously not! Pedestrians are mostly innocent victims in Road Traffic Accidents.
Just like the COVID vaccinewhile you might get a milder disease when infected with the virus in case you are vaccinated, however you can still infect others, and those not vaccinated are at risk from you!

When we wear seatbelts or helmets do we give a thought to the manufacturers profits (it is assumed that you will choose wisely when it comes to safeguarding your head- as you have only one) ?
Well, most of us may not think of this at all….,
Just like the COVID vaccinethose companies that have manufactured these, will undoubtedly profit from sales. However they have also invested their own money in doing so, and hence, if you can, you should buy into their company! There is no such thing as a free lunch in life. So why grudge them their billions. You could be the one who discovers the next big vaccine, in another life. For info, you cannot buy shares of Serum Institute as it is a privately held company.

So, are we happy that some company / agencies / persons invented seatbelts and helmets?
Absolutely. I and my family have been wearing seatbelts long before it even became compulsory in India. And having been in the military, we all are aware that helmets are compulsory for soldiers to save their heads from bullets, and from the road too.
Just like the COVID vaccineI am very happy and pleased that there are some very smart people working to develop vaccines ,not just for COVID19 but for all kinds of threats that humanity faces on a daily basis.

Do helmets and seatbelts themselves cause injuries?
Yes, seatbelt injuries do occur and helmets can be problematic especially if sub standard.
Just like the COVID vaccines, which can all have side effects, mostly mild, some serious.

Knowing all of the above, should we still wear helmets for two wheelers and seatbelts for cars, even if these were not legally enforced?
Yes, I would ! And I will !
Just like the COVID vaccine.

Someday, I would surely get a vaccine, you would not find me fighting to get in line to be in the front of the queue. But yes, eventually I will get the vaccine.
Just like wearing a seatbelt or a helmet, getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you can be a COVidiot , it just gives you some amount of protection.

So at the end of it all, it boils down to just how much of a risk taker you are!
Are you willing to take the risk of side effects for the x% chance of protection? How much do you see yourself as at risk of getting infected and developing serious disease? Which could be prevented or minimized by getting the vaccine?

Irrespective of your age, dont get perturbed. Go for it with your eyes wide open. Neither expect miracles nor give up hope. And continue to Mask and Distance and wash your hands off concern..


New Year 2021

As we embark on the journey through yet another year in our lives after a washed out 2020, no one, nay not one person, can aver that the potential end of the pandemic is not in their mental horizon.

Will I get the vaccine? Will the vaccine work? Will I get infected with this coronavirus? What will be the effect of the vaccine to safeguard me and my family? Can I stop all these precautionary measures? Can I get my life back? Will things go back to the ‘normal’ that I have been used to for all these years?

Seemingly rhetorical questions , these all…. as no one can answer them with certainty. When asked by someone to comment on them, I candidly stated that these are best answered after one calendar to the date. No one knows, despite all the science being brandished on social media to intimidate the lay person!

Masterly inactivity and watchful expectancy are the key words I am going to be relying upon in this New Year. On the lighter side, I have never watched even a Bollywood movie “First Day, First Show”.

Please be careful of misinformation and disinformation. There is a lot of vaccine related information floating around, and a flurry of claims and counter allegations. IGNORE all these please.

Please have a look at this highly relevant poster from the WHO….

If you have to receive the vaccine, you will get it! You dont have to decide anyway , till the last minute. So why fret? As time goes by, more evidence will roll in, more information will be available. So dont rush to the head of the queue.

In 2021, I forecast that Wearing of masks , Avoiding close contact, crowds and crowded places, Hand and personal hygiene will be the mantra to prevent infection, not just from coronavirus, but a host of other infections. About the vaccine, I cannot forecast what will be the reality, as this is best commented upon in hindsight !


Dont get your Blood Pressure up thinking about ‘the vaccine’!

In the current times, to begin anything with a note about the much anticipated vaccine makes sure that your attention is caught!

Whether a vaccine that ‘works’ will reach you, eventually, may just be a matter for speculation! Whether that vaccine will be safe is what will be worrying to you and to everyone!

Wait and watch, masterly inactivity and watchful expectancy is what I recommend for everyone waiting with bated breath. Unless you are yourself involved in either the research or the regulatory supervision, the vaccine development process doesnt need you! So why fret? Dont get all worked up thinking about the vaccine.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your blood pressure is consistently too high. Normal blood pressure is when the Systolic (upper number) <120 mmHg and diastolic (lower number) <80 mmHg. Anything more than this can be classified as either Elevated Blood pressure in the early stages or as proper Hypertension (stage 1 and 2 at higher levels).

Hypertension is so common in our modern day lives, that most of us will eventually develop hypertension, sooner than later given our lifestyles.

  • Most of the time there are no obvious symptoms.
  • Certain physical traits and lifestyle choices can put us at a greater risk for high BP.
  • If left untreated, the damage that high BP does to your circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart disease, stroke and other effects on health.

Prevention is the best ‘cure’ for high BP. Simple measures are what you and me need to incorporate into our daily lives.

Please circulate the below posters to your family, friends and colleagues, to spread the correct information. Might as well read something other than vaccine news !

Pandemic Wave – Let it pass you by

There is a lot of conjecture, a lot of speculation, and indeed, a lot of erudite folks educated mostly through social media, who are tossing about their views on the ongoing pandemic and its epidemiological trends. So, should you care?

Well, wise is the person who heeds the lessons that life offers ever so often. While waiting for an effective vaccine may be akin to waiting for Godot, let us not get swayed by the rhetoric all around.

Irrespective of whether we need to anticipate second or third waves or whatever, of the ongoing pandemic, please be reassured that current evidence still reaffirms that preventive measures remain the same, i.e. Avoid Crowds, Crowded Places and Close Contact. Stay Masked, and Wash hands frequently.   

A ready reckoner of the symptoms which should warrant seeking medical attention is as below.   There are many other symptoms which may not be mentioned here. Just keep your wits about you, and confer with your friendly health care provider on telephone when you are in doubt and are unwell.

Stay calm and Stay aware. Do not neglect symptoms.   

And, do not unnecessarily get yourself tested unless it is required to get tested.   

Rely only on authentic sources of information and do not be swayed by social media misinformation.

Diabetes – A sweet you?

Dear Reader,

Happy Diwali to you and your loved ones!
As we inch towards the end of 2020, and it becomes that time of the year to make resolutions for the New Year…we all must endeavour to recognize the insidious threat to our health that Diabetes poses.

We all know someone or have a family member who is affected by Diabetes. This is not a ‘modern’ disease, though it definitely is a lifestyle disease! Young or old, all are potentially threatened by Diabetes! It is an inescapable reality, that the years ahead will have non communicable diseases such as Diabetes and Hypertension in store, for most of us.

Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

To help prevent Type 2 Diabetes and its complications, we all should:-

  • achieve and maintain a healthy body weight;
  • be physically active – doing at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most if not all days of the week. Keep in mind that more activity is required for weight control;
  • eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats;
  • avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • cut down on consumption of alcohol.

Diabetes is not about sweetness of your foods or your personality. Diabetes is about your lifestyle. .

In this festive season,
Prevention is all about Moderation… Think before you eat 😁

You can indulge yourself for sure…. keeping in mind that moderation is key!

Best wishes for the festive season!

Domestic Assistants- Keep them safe and healthy!

This COVID 19 pandemic has caused many an upheaval in our lives, right from oWfH (overWorking from Home) to the Lockdown . This disruption to our lives, when many of us wielded the spatula and the frypan, the broom and the dustpan, possibly for the first time, highlighted the role of the missing person – Our Domestic Assistants! One truly appreciated the support that had been given silently over the years by these good people who assist us in our daily lives.

In these pandemic times, with Physical Distancing, Masking and Sanitization being the only measures we have to rely on to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones, the question often asked is what can we do, to have our cake and eat it too.

It is an inescapable fact that those who assist us and keep the house in order, reside in conditions of overcrowding, with questionable hygiene and poor sanitation. We may choose to pretend otherwise.

Have a look-see at these posters specifically designed to be practical. Do what you must, and do what you can.

As usual, please share freely, comment , connect directly with me. Ask for any specific inputs or suggestions.

Stay safe! Remain well!

COVID 19 – At our doorstep!

There may be a wee bit of trepidation when one switches on the television, opens one’s phone, reaches for the daily newspaper, what with the overload of information and news on Coronavirus. My advice is to just disregard any coronavirus news, pay no attention to anything other than the simple measures for prevention that have remained virtually unchanged since the beginning of the pandemic, maybe just got a little more refined.

The Three C’s for prevention in July 2020

There are cases occurring everywhere now. Well, India is the second largest country in the world, so it stands to reason , right….? Do not worry, at this point of time, experience of the past few months has found that the vast majority of cases are asymptomatic and in those who become symptomatic, the majority get ok sooner than later. Complications do occur, but then they do so in many other diseases too. All you can do, and all you need to do at this juncture (Sep 2020) is to “Stay Calm, and Be Cool” and “Prevent to Stay Safe”.

For those who are living in residential Societies, an updated advisory is placed here, for ease of reference.

Please do reach out in case you need any customised advice, specific to your context, or just simply need sane counsel. Please use any / all the material on this blogpost for informing people about the current situation. No attribution or credit is required. Information of the correct variety empowers people.

In case you have households that need to be quarantined (those who have exposure but no cases), and those that need to be isolated (those who have cases), please comply with local administrative instructions as may be applicable to your city. A few generic info flyers are placed here for your ease of reference:

Part 1 and 2 – Guidelines for Home Isolation

We cannot escape being exposed to the virus, being a pandemic, implying widely spread, with transmission happening, though not very efficient. (Dont bother yourself with epidemiological terms like R0 etc).

However, what we can do is simply adhere to what is the expected behaviour required during this New Normal.

Please reach out on Email / Whatsapp, or through the Contact Us page for getting more information. You can also subscribe to this blog and be updated with relevant info (no spam , assured!).

Dont hesitate to point out any inadequacies or shortcomings in the info being provided, and if you would like some specific additional information for future posts, please add to the Comments below.

Exercise is good for you!

If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.

Think of “Health” and what it means to you personally. When I used to teach the philosophical context of health per se, to young students in their first year of medical school, an assignment for them was to interview their mothers to obtain views on what feeling healthy meant to them at that point of time.

When you are young you do not realize its worth, and as you age, you would trade in a fortune to have good health. The time to start working on good health is when you are young, and to sustain the effort required as you age, to stay ‘healthy’.

Exercise of any sort, should be a lifestyle choice and not just a habit , on most if not all days of the week.

A self explanatory set of posters is enclosed in this post for the reader to use at his / her discretion to spread information in their circle of influence.

For starters, I recommend downloading any step counting app for your phone, or wearing a watch which counts steps. Try to reach up to at least 10,000 steps per day. You can have a look at some information about this seemingly arbitrary target

Please circulate to your friends , family and others. Exercise is for anyone and everyone, at any age, to the extent that is feasible, within circumstances that are conducive. It is mostly a choice to be exercised, daily.

Move, for health!

If you need any advice about health through fitness for your corporate workforce, please do get in touch.

Breastfeeding saves Babies!

The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2020 (every year from 01 August to 07 August) was “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”. In line with this theme, WHO and UNICEF sent out a call for governments to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counselling, which is considered to be a critical component of breastfeeding support.

Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both children and mothers. And it forms part of a sustainable food system. But while breastfeeding is a natural process, it is not always easy. Mothers need support – both to get started and to sustain breastfeeding. (Source: WHO website)

This post is not to give you information about Breastfeeding or such like. It is just to bring to your attention that we all know someone or the other who will breastfeed or would have already breastfed at some point in their lives. In our roles as fathers, mothers, mothers in law, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, husbands, friends and well wishers, we can influence people who matter about the benefits to babies and their mothers from breastfeeding. We can all provide some form of breastfeeding counselling which can help mothers to build confidence while respecting their individual circumstances and choices. Counselling can empower women to overcome challenges and prevent feeding and care practices that may interfere with optimal breastfeeding, such as the provision of unnecessary liquids, foods, and breastmilk substitutes to infants and young children. (Source: WHO website)

If you are an employer, you can provide facilities to your staff for those who need to breastfeed their babies or give them time off during the day for this. If you are an employee, you can be supportive of those who need to breastfeed their babies. If you are just a well wisher, who wishes babies and their mothers well, encourage and support breast feeding.

A set of posters were released during the World Breast Feeding Week of 2020 , to create awareness amongst people. Please download them and share with all those who matter to you. Be a baby’s best supporter today. Spread the information around.

If you are a doctor or a nurse in a hospital or a clinic, Delta Zulu’s consultancy service can help you make your facility a “Baby Friendly Facility“. I have done this with great satisfaction all around (not just from babies) for many facilities in India and abroad. Just for your information , there is even certification available under the Babyfriendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) which was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The BFHI is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding. However, you need not even go the whole hog… you can just institute systems and policies in place to ensure that your baby customers are happy customers.

60 Parachute Field Hospital

SIXTY , the Airborne Angels , the mother unit for all paratrooper doctors of the Medical Corps, was raised on 10th August 1942. For those interested in military history and for the trivia buffs, the first Indian paratrooper is none other a doctor who went on to command SIXTY with distinction- Col Arcot Govindaraj Rangaraj, MVC.

Col AG Rangaraj, MVC being escorted by me when I was a young Captain, just before my Para Basic course, circa 1992

Read here about Col Rangaraj:-,patients%20during%20the%20Korean%20war.

SIXTY has operated in support of the armed forces in India and abroad , from the jungles of Arakan, to the Korean War, from deserts, to jungles, to mountains, the doctors and men of SIXTY have been there, and done that! And along the journey, SIXTY has the quiet distinction of having received two Maha Vir Chakras, seven Vir Chakras, and multiple other awards, commendations, and citations, in its glorious 78 year history.

Only one way out of a plane for a paratrooper!

SIXTY being one of the few Airborne medical units across the world, is at the forefront of all rapid medical deployments, and its doctors and men, those who wear their maroon beret with pride, have rendered stellar service wherever they have been deployed across the decades.

The Platinum Jubilee of SIXTY was a much celebrated event in 2017 and was marked by a renewed focus on ensuring that the paratrooper doctors and men who pass through the portals of SIXTY will forever cherish their association.

Proud to be a paratrooper !

Happy Landings to all those Maroon Beret doctors out there!

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