VIRUS WATCH A health worker collects samples for Covid test in Delhi’s Sadar Bazar
The first time Vidhushi Tripathi sensed something was wrong with her was when she couldn’t smell the garam masala her mother uses as a garnish for dal. Normally, the aroma of the spices would alert Tripathi, a 33-year-old software engineer in Bengaluru, that dinner was about to be served. But one night in June, she could smell nothing. “I tested positive for Covid. I had mild symptoms—fever and fatigue. I can never explain how frightened I was that I might have infected my mother, but she was negative. After two weeks, I tested negative too and could smell again,” says Tripathi.
Tripathi thought the worst was over. But nearly five months on, she continues to struggle with her post Covid recovery. Debilitating fatigue was the first symptom she experienced ‘Long Covid’, a condition where patients continue to deal with Covid-related symptoms long after their body has been rid of the virus. Some days, the fatigue was so extreme that she found it difficult to even talk while walking. The next symptom was the same old loss of smell, which would last about two days at a time. “Suddenly one day, I couldn’t smell my coffee—I couldn’t believe it. Then a few weeks later, I couldn’t smell flowers. The symptom just comes and goes in waves. Every time I feel I am getting better, I relapse,” says Tripathi. The third symptom, which persists to date, is gluten sensitivity that has forced Tripathi to give up wheat, flour, and other gluten-heavy products.
In another part of India, another patient reported an entirely different experience of ‘Long Covid’. Mumbaikar Azad Khan, 40, woke up one July morning to find rashes and red marks on his fingers. He thought it might have been caused by the stress of dealing with Covid and immediately got into meditation. Ten days later, when his joints began to ache painfully, he visited Jaslok Hospital where a doctor informed him that the condition could have been caused by blood clots—an occurrence among several Covid patients. Studies in France and Netherlands suggest that 20-30 percent of Covid patients develop thrombosis, or blood clots, which could persist even after recovery. If not treated in time with blood thinners and anticoagulants, it could be life-threatening.
Both Tripathi and Khan had jobs that could be done from home. Sreekumar, a 34-year-old courier delivery executive in Noida, in the National Capital Region, had no such luxury. Despite crippling exhaustion and muscle-ache, he continued to ride his bike to deliver packages. In October, the mental trauma of two months of battling the physiological manifestations of ‘Long Covid’ got too much. Sreekumar gave up on his dream to make a living in a big city and prepared to return to his hometown in Telangana to work at a farm.
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THE LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY
TO ACCELERATE THE PROCESS, WHAT IS NEEDED IS AN AGGRESSIVE APPROACH TO VACCINE DELIVERY, A FISCAL STIMULUS, MORE CREDIT AND LARGE-SCALE PRIVATISATION OF PUBLIC SECTOR UNDERTAKINGS
THE MAKE OR BREAK YEAR
HOW NARENDRA MODI NEGOTIATES 2021 WILL DETERMINE WHETHER HE EMERGES AS A STATEMAN OR FINDS RE-ELECTION IN 2024 DIFFICULT. FOR THE OPPOSITION, IT MAY BE A LAST CHANCE TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER TO STOP THE MODI JUGGERNAUT
THE CURSE AND THE PROMISE
BE IT THE PANDEMIC OR CLIMATE CHANGE-INDUCED WEATHER DISASTERS, NATURE HAS SPOKEN. THERE IS NO TIME LEFT, WE NEED TO FIX WHAT IS BROKEN
NO SILVER BULLETS FOR DEFENCE
THE CONVERGENCE OF CHALLENGES IN THE YEAR OF THE PANDEMIC MEANS NEW DELHI WILL NEED TO REASSESS ITS MILITARY MODERNISATION, REFOCUS BUDGETS AND ACCELERATE DEFENCE REFORMS THAT HAVE BEEN STUCK FOR OVER TWO DECADES
A TIME FOR RESETS, A TIME FOR DIALOGUE
IN 2020, THE STREETS INTUITIVELY OWNED THE CONSTITUTION. IT IS NOW ALSO TIME FOR THE RULERS TO BE LIMITED BY IT
SUNNIER GROWTH WITH A CHANCE OF VOLATILITY
THE PANDEMIC WILL LEAVE SOME ECONOMIC SCARS GLOBALLY; GIVEN THE UNCERTAINTY IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY AND POLITY, OUR POLICYMAKERS MUST AVOID DOGMA AND REMAIN AGILE
INDIA'S GREATEST OPPORTUNITY
THE “GREAT GAME” IN THE 21ST CENTURY IS AN ECONOMIC CONTEST. INDIA NEEDS TO OPEN UP TO GLOBAL COMPETITION—IT LEADS TO SHORT-TERM CREATIVE DESTRUCTION, BUT LONG-TERM ECONOMIC STRENGTH
WHEN NORMAL MEDIA ACTIVITY CAME TO A HALT, A NEW GENERATION OF ENTREPRENEURS AND CREATIVES TOOK OVER, BUT THE OPPORTUNITIES OF DIGITAL GROWTH COULD BE DESTROYED BY THOUGHTLESS REGULATION
The Pandemic's Wake-Up Call
While India’s problem-solving approach helped battle covid, it needs to boost its spending on health, including r&d, prioritise key disease threats, set up a public health cadre, strengthen care delivery at the primary level and use tech as a force multiplier
Five Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World
A less unipolar, increasingly digital, accelerated world awaits us on the other side of the pandemic. But the stresses of change and increased inequalities will demand a return to international cooperation too