NEW DELHI: The Covid-19 case fatality rate (CFR) for doctors could be as high as ten times that of the general population, the data compiled by the Indian Medical Association — the largest body of doctors in the country — shows.
As per the IMA figures, till Wednesday, 382 of the 2,238 infected practitioners of modern medicine have succumbed to the infection, which means that the CFR for doctors is 17.06% while the overall CFR due to Covid-19 in the country is less than 1.7% now.
The list of 382 doctors who have died so far, majority of them general physicians, also includes government doctors and private professionals who are not IMA members.
“Doctors are probably paying one of the heaviest prices in the pandemic, but we are shocked at the government’s apathy and indifference towards us,” said Dr R V Asokan, general secretary of the association.
Earlier this week, while making a statement on Covid-19 situation in Parliament, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said the government does not have data on the infection prevalence and fatalities among healthcare staffers.
Asokan said this callous response showed that the Centre has been “superficial” in its talks of respect for ‘Covid warriors’ who are the most vulnerable to the disease while trying to save the lives of lakhs of patients.
IMA officials said while the association’s database may not be exhaustive, with many more actual cases of infection and deaths missing, it was the government’s duty to maintain and track such a list. Many countries — the Center for Disease Control in the US, for example — keep a database on Covid-19 impact on the healthcare personnel, they pointed out.
Last week, in a 48-page report submitted to the parliamentary standing committee on health, the IMA wrote that “doctors suffer a higher viral load and a higher CFR (as a community)”.
They could have stayed at home during the epidemic safely but chose to serve the nation in the best traditions of the medical profession, it pointed out.
“All doctors who have laid down their lives in fighting this epidemic should be treated at par with the martyrs of Indian Armed Forces and acknowledged appropriately,” said the report, adding that the surviving spouse or dependent should be provided a government job as per their qualifications.
Hope for COVID-19 vaccine next year
The government is hopeful that the Covid-19 vaccine would be available to India by 2021, but it will take time to reach the entire 135 crore population of the country, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
He defended the government’s handling of Covid-19. On the opposition MPs’ charge that state governments were not taken into confidence while imposing lockdown, he said PM Narendra Modi held talks with all chief ministers and experts on the issue.