Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXX No. 23, April 1-15, 2021
We Indians love controversies. These controversies help keep us in good cheer and spirits helping take our minds off our mundane and often dull existence.
Now the Corona Virus has provided us with a controversy of a new variety. The two available vaccines, Covaxin and Covishield have had their benefits and risks discussed threadbare. Thanks to Whatsapp this topic is being discussed in almost every household, pushing even the elections to the background.
It was reported that from mid January when vaccination started, that the response from healthcare workers was poor. There was a certain reluctance in taking the vaccine. This was in large measure due to the fact that the Phase III trial data of Covaxin and that of the bridging study in India of Covishield was never made available in the public domain. There were reports of vaccines being wasted as vials that had been opened did not have the full number of patients to be given to.
When the vaccine was opened to those above the age of 60 and for those between 45-60 with co morbidities the response improved but here too with a twist. Those between the ages of 45-60 who went to get vaccines were asked if they had any of the comorbidities listed to make them eligible for the vaccine. Normally not having a co morbidity would be a good thing but in this case it makes you ineligible for vaccination at the moment. So either the patients spun a yarn about a comorbidity or the hospital simply filled in one of the listed conditions so as to give them the vaccine. This led to the Whatsapp rumor that if you put in a fake comorbidity your medical record would be updated affecting your eligibility for health insurance.
The attitude of the Government is baffling. There are a 130 crore people waiting to get vaccinated. Even if we leave out the under 18 for now at least 80-100 crore people would need the vaccine. To date just 4.5 crore people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Why not simply open up vaccination for all?
One theory why Government is reluctant to do this relates to the large number of Covid vaccines India has exported. Until last week 5.84 crore doses of mainly the Covishield vaccine had been exported by India to over 70 countries around the world and if vaccination is opened up and there is a shortage of vaccines the Government would be blamed.
The latest issue is the non availability of Covishield vaccines in most hospitals in our State. On further inquiry we are told that the doses of Covishield have been kept in reserve to give the 2nd dose for those who got that vaccine as their 1st dose. So as of now only Covaxin is being pushed at almost all centres to persons getting their first dose.
We Indians are a class conscious society. Now a new class distinction has been added. Are you a Vax or a Shield person is the question that is often asked.
The larger question though is whether Vax or Shield, will the vac shield me?
88, Harrington Road, Chetput
Chennai 600 031
This is in response to the articles on the vaccination drive, by the Special Correspondent and by Mr. Rajagopalan Venkataramanan. I faced a lot of pressure from friends and well-wishers to take the vaccine. There were a few stories afloat regarding the malfunctioning of the Co-WIN app, but I downloaded it earnestly. However, the required OTP never arrived. The ArogyaSetu app had a page for vaccination which was much better than the Co-WIN app. I tried to fix an appointment but could not get at the date, though I could see the various UPHC based on the pin code. Finally, I went to the nearest UPHC to get the details, but the staff were ill-informed and directed me to the COVID19 recovering unit which was in the process of being closed. I then went to the GCC Zonal office and the health section identified Padi Manjakuppam as the vaccination centre. I stepped in to find a few patients waiting after the shot and it was totally free. The staff said to come before 2 pm anyway.
I learnt that another UPHC near Chennai Public School was also good, so the next morning I went there with my wife. Before starting, I decided to try registering through the ArogyaSetu app. And lo! When I touched the blank window, the dates showed up and I registered. When I went to the UPHC, there was a sizeable crowd of around 10 to 15 people. Since it was an online registration, we had a green channel and in a span of 10 minutes, we were vaccinated. After a BP check, the staff ascertained that we had our breakfast and asked us to wait for 30 minutes. In the meantime, we informed the admin staff that we got vaccinated showing our online ref, which took just 10 minutes. There were no hassles – why can’t people visit the nearest UPHC!
As a good Samaritan, I shared my experience with the parents of my daughter’s friend, who were frantically trying to get registered in a private hospital. They followed my advice and were happily vaccinated. Let MM readers know and spread this for the benefit of many Chennaites.
I am a senior citizen who has been going for walks on the Marina beach for almost 30 years now. I read your article on Marina Beach in the latest edition of Madras Musings. In spite of putting up good facilities, they are not maintained properly. While the public is mainly responsible for littering the beach, the staff assigned also do not do their job. I wonder if any official of the Greater Chennai Corporation ever visits the facilities. About two years back, they provided First Aid Kiosks where a doctor was supposed to be available to take care of any emergency. Now, these are kept closed and look shabby. They also provided drinking water facilities which are abandoned now. The taps have been removed and the sink is broken. The few available toilets are open only after 6am, whereas many people like me start walking at 5am in order to get a parking spot and avoid crowds. Let us hope that the concerned authorities take corrective action so that we enjoy the facilities provided at the beach.
6, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai
Mylapore, Chennai 600 004
I remember the 1957 General Elections in the Madras South constituency discussed by Karthik Bhatt (Madras Musings, March 16-31, 2021) in which T.T. Krishnamachari won handsomely, polling with over 80,000 votes. H.D. Rajah came a poor third with hardly 25,000 votes. But posthumously, I would say, H.D. Rajah nearly caught up. If there is a TTK Road in Alwarpet, there is an H.D. Rajah Street in nearby Teynampet (off Eldams Road). Death is indeed a great leveler.
G. Ram Mohan
Flat 2B, Arihant Sri Narayana
33 & 35, Fourth Main Road
R.A. Puram, Chennai 600 028
As a person of Indian Origin born in 1941, I left India for good in 1966. Memories linger, however, of Chennai, Mylapore and other parts of India in the 60s. Today, I live by two media sites, Live History and Madras Musings. Chennai’s cricket scenes from the late 50s and 60s are vivid – I recall MCC, MRC, YMCA, BRC, Jolly Rovers, Gandhi Nagar CC and so many others. Who can forget S.V.S. Mani, V.V. Kumar, Kirpal Singh, Milkha Singh, Venkat Raghavan, the flamboyant P.K. Belliappa and the evergreen “Indian Bank Mani”, without whom no test match in Chennai was worth watching? I also remember the Kapaleeswarar temple and tank surrounded by coconut trees. In the end, nothing changes except change itself. To look back on these memories is like looking into the lenses of a frolicking “bioscope” man. Mr. Muthiah was indeed that bioscope man