Writing a book about a disease never crossed Dr Rajesh Parikh’s mind. “Not about a pandemic for sure!” he said in a telephonic conversation with The Morning Standard. “I have brought out a photobook on Kashmir, and a few years ago also published some poetry but a non-fiction, explaining the nitty-gritties of a disease, was never on my to-do-list,” he added, about his new book,
The Coronavirus: What you Need to Know about the Global Pandemic, that he co-authored with Dr Swapneil Parikh and clinical psychologist Maherra Desai. With this book, said the Mumbai-based director of medical research and honorary neurosurgeon at Jaslok Hospital, he has ventured into newer territory, the one where direct interaction with public concerned on COVID-19 took place through the written word.
The Coronavirus…, published by Penguin Random House, takes the reader through the history of pandemics while giving some serious advice on how to keep oneself safe from the deadly virus. It pays homage to whistleblowers like Dr Li Wenliang and attempts to picture the world after COVID-19.
About the pertinent question on the availability of vaccine, Dr Rajesh says it is important that the distribution of a vaccine is conducted fairly. Echoing the same views is Dr Swapneil, whose practice centres around reversing lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity.
“A vast majority of Indians can’t access healthcare, and I hope when we come out of this danger, people start caring for those who have constantly suffered due to lack of basic medical facilities. It’s time to create a fair society.”The authors credit American philosopher Susan Sontag for her guidance while bringing to fore politics and economies of the disease, and moving on to explain its reciprocal relationship with social media. Maherra Desai has researched the effects of social media as the medium which is both a strength and weakness for public-at-large.
“While the Chinese whistleblowed about the disease on the medium, social media also propagated misinformation, xenophobia, racism among other social evils which played onto people’s minds,” said Desai, elaborating how in the book she has pertinently addressed more of this kind of examples concerning stigma associated with COVID-19.
The book was recently launched at Oxford Bookstore’s Facebook page.