Journal of Primary Care Specialties

LETTER TO EDITOR
Year
: 2022  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17--18

Is Covid-19 a serious threat to humanity?


Harish Gupta, Medhavi Gautam, Satish Kumar, Amit Kumar 
 Department of Medicine, KG's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Harish Gupta
Medicine, KG's Medical University, Lucknow
India




How to cite this article:
Gupta H, Gautam M, Kumar S, Kumar A. Is Covid-19 a serious threat to humanity?.J Prim Care Spec 2022;3:17-18


How to cite this URL:
Gupta H, Gautam M, Kumar S, Kumar A. Is Covid-19 a serious threat to humanity?. J Prim Care Spec [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jun 27 ];3:17-18
Available from: https://www.jpcsonline.org/text.asp?2022/3/1/17/338941


Full Text



“The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst world crisis since the 1940s and the worst health emergency since the 1918 flu pandemic a century ago. It has taken so much from us, but it is also giving us an opportunity to build a healthier, safer, and fairer future, for all of us.” – Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, June 24, 2021.

Bhattacharya et al. emphasize about neglected tropical diseases in the era of COVID-19 and then suggest that it is the right time to act together (to control the diseases) in May–August 2021 issue of the Journal.[1] They believe there that (a) phenomenon of dramatization of deaths has bagged priority for COVID-19 as usual. They also underscore that number of deaths due to road traffic accidents is enormously greater yet those are side lined. Here what we need to learn is that although every preventable death should be accounted for so as to draw an accurate picture thence threat is reduced to a minimum by our policy design yet we cannot ignore emerging basic statistics.

Website of Our World in Data regularly updates us about excess deaths taking place worldwide on a real-time basis. One can visualize there that these mortality curves are separated from those of previous years by a wide margin. Therein what appears is that number of deaths due to those regular causes loosely hugs the previous years' figures, nevertheless, a new cause (actually a mutated virus) suddenly appeared in early 2020 and is driving the excess mortality continuously.[2] The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its provisional mortality data for the US in year 2020 on March 31, 2021. This report is posted as a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Early Release.[3] The report contains what are the leading causes of death for year 2020. The provisional data in graphs and tables highlight that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the US.

Authors of the agency drafted an opinion piece in JAMA sometime ago mentioning the leading causes of death in the US for 2020. Besides the points as already written above, it states that early estimates of life expectancy at birth, based on provisional data for January to June 2020, show historic decline not seen since World War II (1942–1943).[4] Woolf et al. studied death certificates issued in March–April 2020 in the US. What they discover in those observations is that only two-third notes (65%) of excess deaths (as compared to previous years) had a diagnosis of COVID-19. The conclusion they draw is that when scores of people die in a pandemic, disruptions of routine health-care services play as much a significant role in mass casualty as the raging novel coronavirus pandemic itself.[5] Hence in a melee not everyone dying of SARS-CoV-2 timely (or otherwise) reaches a hospital, avails a test, gets a bed and then a suitable certificate thereafter having all the correct entries. This factor may be operational behind those one- third deaths which may have gone unaccounted during the surge.

While the data collection system in the US is robust, the same is not true for India. As deaths are undercounted in a pandemic all over the globe, some authors believe that the quantum of underreporting is more here. Recently, when a serosurvey reported that about two-thirds of the Indian population had antibodies to the infectious virus, it sprang hardly any surprise.[6] Therefore, when two-third population was undergoing (and underneath) the surge, even by 1% mortality figure (or less), the count is likely to be huge. Hubris we had about ourselves, helped none and we learned that lesson painfully.

Hence, although malaria and tuberculosis (and dengue)[7] rightfully deserve the attention due to their endemicity and their management should not be lower in priority list, scale and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic also cannot be overemphasized in our times. When health-care workers of our team get sick, sometimes get hospitalized and the few of them succumb; not only the society at large is at loss, it becomes a personal tragedy for everyone around. While number of deaths due to leading causes are wavering around their yearly average figures, unrelenting spread of the virus, coupled with its mutations is adding fuel to fire and full scale of the devastation will be known perhaps only in retrospect when it is brought under some control.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1Bhattacharya S, Saleem SM. Neglected diseases in the era of COVID-19 pandemic: It's the right time to act together. J Prim Care Spec 2021;2:25-6.
2Excess Mortality Using Raw Death Counts. Our World in Data. Available from: https://ourworldindata.org/excess-mortality-covid. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 23].
3Provisional Mortality Data – United States, 2020. USCDC; March 31, 2020. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7014e1.htm#T1_down. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 23].
4Ahmad FB, Anderson RN. The leading causes of death in the US for 2020. JAMA 2021;325:1829-30.
5Woolf SH, Chapman DA, Sabo RT, Weinberger DM, Hill L, Taylor DD. Excess deaths from COVID-19 and other causes, March-July 2020. JAMA 2020;324:1562-4.
6Dyer O. COVID-19: Two thirds in India carry antibodies, while research suggests country's death toll is 10 times official figure. BMJ 2021;374:n1856.
7US CDC. Dengue and COVID-19. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/is-it-dengue-or-covid.html. [Last accessed on 2021 Aug 23].