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Doctors and nurses catch Covid despite being fully vaccinated

About 70 healthcare personnel are down with the disease at all three hospitals of the AMRI group in Calcutta
Doctors treating Covid patients said their workload was mounting by the day.

Sanjay Mandal   |   Calcutta   |   Published 01.05.21, 01:39 AM

A number of doctors and nurses have contracted Covid despite being fully vaccinated against the disease, a trend that will only intensify the crisis in Covid management unless corrective measures are immediately taken.

Public health experts and hospital officials said unless a pool of doctors from all fields is created, the crisis of medical personnel would be as severe as that of Covid beds.

At all three hospitals of the AMRI group in Calcutta, about 70 healthcare personnel, including junior doctors and nurses, are down with Covid.

At Peerless Hospital, at least four senior doctors, including two critical care specialists, have been infected with the coronavirus despite taking both jabs.

Several other hospitals are facing the problem, too. 

“If we can't expand the pool of doctors and nurses, then the existing number of Covid beds will actually come down because there won’t be enough people to treat patients,” said Devi Shetty, the founder and chairman of Narayana Health.

“There are 1.4 lakh doctors who have finished their internships and are preparing for examinations for courses like MD and MS. Similarly, around two lakh nurses across India have completed their training and are now preparing for the examinations. If this fresh workforce is incorporated in the Covid healthcare system by offering incentives of marks in exams, the problem can be solved,” said Shetty.

He also feels there should be a mobile team of doctors and nurses under one central agency. The team will move to places where the incidence of Covid is high.

Narayana Health’s flagship unit in Calcutta, the RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, is approaching doctors from various disciplines to join Covid treatment following the rise in the number of beds for patients suffering from the disease.

“As the number of Covid patients swells in the hospital, it is imperative on the part of the unit to expand the team of consultants taking care of the patients…. Consultants from cardiology, anesthesia, neurology, pulmonology, internal and emergency medicine have joined hands in the mission of fighting the pandemic,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east, Narayana Health.

Doctors treating Covid patients said their workload was mounting by the day.

Physician Chandramouli Bhattacharya used to have around 20 patients admitted under him during the peak of the epidemic last year. On Friday, he had 29 patients admitted under him and the number is going up.

“Hospitals are increasing the number of Covid beds, but this is leading to a shortage of trained critical care doctors. If doctors working in general wards were trained under a senior doctor in the critical care unit, then this shortage could have been managed. If the senior doctor gets infected by the virus, then the junior doctor could have managed. But now, because of lack of such planning, the crisis is being felt,” said Bhattacharya.

Sudipta Mitra, the chief executive of Peerless Hospital, said consultants from other fields might refuse to treat Covid patients and the hospital could not force them to do so as they are not full-time employees.

“The Medical Council of India should come out with an advisory that all doctors should treat Covid patients if required  Otherwise, the increasing pressure on the existing team of doctors would lead to their losing patience and energy and that will affect the treatment,” said Mitra.

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