COVID-19: 12 lessons learnt from the current pandemic

By | July 16, 2020

On December 31 2019, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released the first public message regarding COVID-19. However, the first recorded admission to a hospital with COVID-19 symptoms was December 16 2019.

A day earlier, on December 30 2019, (L) Dr. Li Wenliang had raised alarm in a WeChat group about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. We all know what the departed doctor had to face from the authorities hell bent on suppressing the news of the outbreak.

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19
Electron microscope image of COVID-19 coronavirus

Some of the sites I regularly visit and read started reporting on this pandemic almost immediately. The mainstream media ignored it, initially. Their coverage only began when the news of the severity of the disease started to slowly percolate out of China.

As is usually the case, people and countries do not react to most emergencies/emerging situations on time and do so only after the breach of their defenses. By the time we react, the damage is already done. Then an inordinate amount of the time, effort, and resources are spent on just damage control, forget corrective measures and recovery efforts. In the last few months, as I navigated the new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have learnt quite a lot about humans, humanity, and humanism.

First lesson learnt: Real heroes aren’t the ones on TV or hogging the limelight

The real heroes fighting this battle are rarely, if ever, on TV. Their heroic efforts will go unrecognized. Their scarifies will not be broadcast out loud. The real heroes will never hold a press conference to tell the world about their yeoman service. Eventually, their contributions will simply be forgotten by all.

However, the credit, when this pandemic is contained, will be taken by those who are on TV, which are mostly politicians. They will shout at the top of their voice, how their decisions helped in the fight against COVID-19. However, most of them have done diddly-squat. The bloviating blowhards have done more harm than good.

boy child clouds kid
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on

The real heroes fighting this battle are the doctors, the nurses, the health care workers, the support staff at the hospitals, the cops ensuring social order, the garbage collectors, the undertakers, the ambulance drivers, the researchers trying to discover a vaccine, etc.

The frontline workers, especially the doctors, the nurses, and the healthcare workers, will toil away quietly, out of the spotlight, to take care of the sick and the suffering. They will save many precious lives and fail to save a few. No, not for not trying enough, but because there was nothing more they could have done. Either it was too late or the devastation caused by the virus was irreparable.

Many of them will suffer emotionally and mentally for years to come. Yes, what they are handling daily is a traumatic event, equivalent to the experience of fighting in a war and seeing death and destruction all around. Although they have all seen death, they probably haven’t seen anything like what they are seeing now. And that will leave a mark, a trauma that will take years to heal.

Unsung heroes

Only today it was revealed that in India, while treating patients, 99 doctors have succumbed to COVID-19, while 1300 have been infected. In Russia, almost 500 doctors have died from COVID-19. As of May 20 2020, in Italy 121 doctors have died, in Iran it was 43, in Philippines it was 21, and the list goes on.

In addition, more than 600 nurses have died worldwide from COVID-19 while treating patients.

I have looked long and hard, but couldn’t find the names of any of those doctors and nurses who have died in the line of duty anywhere. I looks like they have already been forgotten.

It is my opinion that just like we have memorials for dead soldiers, we should have memorials for doctors and nurses who gave up their life trying to save others. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening, because there is not enough brownie points for the politicians to do something this noble.

However, those same people will not shy away from taking all the credit for the sacrifices made by the doctors and the nurses. Those people are absolutely shameless creatures, without any soul or conscience, and hardened reprobates. That’s why I call them polytickcians, instead of politicians.

There is always more goodness in the world than there appears to be, because goodness is of its very nature modest and retiring.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall

The real heroes are indeed modest and retiring. We can’t thank the real heroes enough, for everything they are doing and have done to save lives. The real heroes deserve our respect, support, and admiration. The fake ones can go pound some sand.

Second lesson learnt: Truth has been the first casualty in this pandemic

Initially, I took the news coming out of China lightly. Then more and more people from China started sharing anecdotes from the epicenter of this disease. That’s when my spidey sense started to tingle, and I started to pay close attention to the happenings at Wuhan. I knew that if the situation starts to go south, a few things are likely going to happen.

cutouts of letters
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Firstly, China is going to take some strict measures; secondly, it will try to control the narrative, and, finally, try to cover up the truth. And that’s exactly what communist China did.

Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate

Right from the start of the outbreak, truth was subverted. WHO was covering for China and China was covering for… well, itself. China delayed informing the world about the deadly disease within its borders. It muzzled whistleblowers. Some of them even paid with their life.

WHO in a way helped China cover up the spread. Throughout January WHO praised China for speedy response to the crisis saying China’s commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.” Although WHO commended China for releasing the genome immediately, China in fact sat on it for weeks. Other labs had fully decoded the genetic map before the Chinese government released that information to WHO.

It is only now that we learn that China didn’t even inform WHO about the virus. Actually, WHO was first informed about the coronavirus by it’s China office and not by the Chinese government. Yet, early on in the pandemic, WHO was waxing eloquent about China’s handling of the crisis.

China put Wuhan city under lockdown on January 23. That, for me, was the sign I was waiting for. A sign that there is a great divergence between what’s being reported and what’s really happening on the ground. This called for some immediate measures from my end.

I had the perspicacity to realize early on that because of the actions undertaken by China, this virus is different and is probably wreaking havoc in Wuhan. Therefore, it is probably just a matter of time before this virus spreads worldwide, including India.

The real count…

As an aside, does anyone truly believe that China only had 83,483 COVID-19 cases with 4,634 deaths. Colour me skeptical, but I don’t believe a word coming out of CPC controlled media. Truth be told we will probably never know the true fatality rate and the number of people who contracted the disease in China. Communist China will certainly suppress and then erase the real stats forever.

However, literature does exists that question China’s claim about COVID-19 infections and fatalities. You can peruse the following links to know more.

Third lesson learnt: Information vacuum will lead to wrong advice

In late January, after reading eyewitness accounts and ground reports from China on various website, and by also doing my own research/study, I realized that I have at best a few weeks before the virus eventually makes its “landfall” in India.

Photo by Edward Jenner on

I am the primary caregiver of my elderly mom, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, heart and thyroid problems. And the news out of China was that elderly people with co-morbidities are the most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Especially, people with diabetes and hypertension experience the most complications and mortalities. Therefore, I realized that my focus now should be on how to protect my mom from contracting this virus and make preparations to ensure her and my safety.

Now, to make preparations for something that is still not understood entirely, you look up to the so called experts for guidance. Unfortunately, the “experts” were all over the map on what’s to be done and not done. They changed their advice and guidance almost on a daily basis. Yes, the situation was very fluid; however, they seemed to be almost clueless and running around like a headless chicken.

For e.g., most “experts” at that time were dilly-dallying over the question of whether wearing masks will protect us from the virus. Some of them were of the opinion that masks will do nothing to protect us from the virus and we shouldn’t buy and wear them. Only later did we find out that wearing masks do help, and the only reason they were advising people to not wear one was to prevent people from hoarding them. So, how many people died because a few experts decided to lie to people. Will they ever be held accountable?

Fourth lesson learnt: Do what your heart tells you and mind justifies!

So, what do you do when people who should guide you are all over the place with their advice?

You start doing your own due diligence. And that’s what I did.

I access and read various sites that are considered non-mainstream. Some would call them fringe. The signal to noise ratio is quite high on those sites. However, once you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff, the nuggets of vital information you can extract from those sites are immeasurable.

One such information was around wearing masks, taking vitamin D3, C, magnesium, zinc, and probiotics. After reading the recommendations on the site and cross checking those information with available literature, I did what my heart told me and my mind justified.

Fifth lesson learnt: Have a game plan and execute

Hence, on January 27 2020, I placed order for masks, which were delivered on Jan 31. A couple of days later, those specific masks were no longer available on the E-commerce site. Matter of fact, when I accessed my order history page and clicked on the links to the product pages, I got the error message, “Page doesn’t exist.” Somebody must have come along and bought the entire lot.

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

On Jan 30 2020, when India reported its first COVID-19 case in the state of Kerala, I placed my order for liquid hand wash, detergent powder, hand sanitizer, and disposable gloves.

My mom takes a balanced nutrition drink regularly. Then, I bought that product.

Next, it was time for 99% pure iso propyl alcohol, disinfectant spray, and bleaching powder for making sodium hypochlorite.

Back to basics

Then, it was the turn for vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, a hormone rather, that the human body needs for enhanced immune response, which is critical in fighting any infection. I also learned people with dark skin are generally vitamin D deficient, because higher concentration of melanin, a pigment in our skin, which lowers the human skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight.

The last time I checked I was vitamin D deficient and so was my mom. Hence, I placed my order for vitamin D. Vitamin D, however, will not be absorbed properly if we are magnesium deficient. So, I ordered a magnesium supplement next.

closeup photo of slice of orange
Photo by Engin Akyurt on

In addition, from those ‘fringe’ sites, I learned about the importance of vitamin C on our immune system. I placed an order for vitamin C, next.

Then, it was time for zinc. Most people do not know how important zinc is for cellular metabolism, catalytic activity, and immune function. A daily dose of zinc is required because our body does not have any mechanism to store zinc internally. Most importantly, citizens of most developing nations are deficient in zinc.

Finally, your immunity starts in your gut. Therefore, if your gut is not healthy, then your immunity is probably compromised. Hence, you need healthy food, and pre and probiotics. I got them next.

Stock up on non-perishables

I live in a small city, where home delivery of products is virtually non-existent. Faced with the possibility of lockdowns and curfews, where I will not be able to step out of my house, in the next few weeks, I stocked up my pantry with at least 2 months of food. Most of these were non perishables: rice, sugar, pulses, dry milk, peanut butter, jam, tea, coffee, ketchup, noodles, toilet paper, paper napkins, etc.

Then, I stocked up my freezer with meat, fish, milk, eggs, etc.

vegetables and tomatoes on cutting board
Photo by Pixabay on

I knew that it was just a matter of time before lockdowns were imposed. Hence, having some cash at home would be a prudent decision. Therefore, over a few days, I withdrew some cash from the bank to ensure personal financial liquidity.

Next, I filled up my car’s gas tank.

I am an occasional drinker. Hence, I stocked up on some whiskey, too.

Finally, I stocked up on 4 months supply of medicines for my mom. With China meeting 70-80% of India’s API requirement, who knew what would happen if the API supply from China stopped.

Sixth lesson learnt: In an emergency, those who panic first panic best

By the time the people of this nation and the government woke up to the oncoming “tsunami”, I was ready for the lockdown and the curfews. Finally, when everybody woke up to the enemy at the gate and started panicking, I couldn’t help but feel sad for them—for many of them walk through life wearing blinkers.

don t panic text on toilet paper
Photo by Markus Spiske on
Let me clarify a few things, though.

First, I am not gloating or bragging about being prepared. I am not trying to be arrogant or condescending. I tried to warn many, but hardly anybody listened. Furthermore, coming from process, people, and project management background, I am always evaluating risks and planning ahead; that’s my second nature. Hence, when I learned about the virus and its effect worldwide, I did what I am ‘programmed’ to do—evaluate and mitigate risks, and plan ahead.

In addition, I understand that many people may have had the foresight but not the means to prepare themselves for this pandemic. Hence, during this pandemic, I have tried to the best of my ability to help people less fortunate than me .

Second, me buying months supply of stuff was not hoarding. At least, I think it isn’t. In my opinion, I have just pulled the demand forward, which effectively means I’ll not go grocery shopping for a couple of months. For e.g., if we consumed say 5 kg of rice/month, I bought 10 kg of rice for my pantry. Consequently, I am not buying rice for the next two months.

Finally, no, being prepared doesn’t mean that I have made myself COVID-19 proof. I may still contract the virus because although I have taken all the precautions, many people haven’t or don’t want to, as they think they are invincible. Many people around me are very nonchalant about this virus. They don’t’ care about their wellbeing or that of others. Hence, they aren’t wearing masks or maintaining social distancing in public. The precautions I have taken is somewhat akin to defensive driving. I may drive very carefully, follow the speed limit, and maintain a safe distance, yet a drunk driver may jump the light and end it all for me.

Seventh lesson learnt: Most models don’t work.

The saying in statistics that ‘all models are wrong; however, some are useful‘ couldn’t be further from the truths. Most models and modelers have failed abysmally in predicting the course and impact of COVID-19.

analytics blur close up commerce
Photo by Lukas on
Listed below are a few examples.

On April 24 2020, V. K. Paul, member of Niti Aayog, made a presentation claiming that by May 16 the number of active COVID-19 cases will be zero in India. As of today, July 16 2020, there are 968,876 active cases and 24,915 confirmed deaths in India due to COVID-19.
Niti Aayog’s wrong prediction

An AI based data analysis by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) predicted that COVID-19 will end in India by May 21. It is July now, and we have neither flattened the curve nor will hit the peak anytime soon.
SUTD’s wrong prediction

Prof. Neil Fergusson of Imperial College of London predicted that half a million people in Britain would die if Britain didn’t undertake lockdown measures. Because of this prediction the British Government went from the strategy of herd-immunity to lockdown. The code behind the model is 13 years old and is supposedly a ‘mess‘. His model has been criticized by other scientists and experts.
By the way, over the years, this gentleman has made may wild ass predictions and most of them have been wrong. You can read more about them here.
Prof. Neil Fergusson’s wrong prediction

On April 4 2020, Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, drawing up on projections by ‘sophisticated scientists’ said that “New York might need up to 140,000 hospital beds and as many as 40,000 intensive care units with ventilators.” However, in actuality, the number of ICU beds used declined to 4,908 and the total number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations was 18,569, way below the scary projection. Similar scary predictions were made for Tennessee and California, which did not come true.

Approximation models

What most people, experts and otherwise, now agree is that almost all COVID-19 prediction models have been wrong and will probably be wrong going forward. Most of the models early on predicted end-of-the-world, which hasn’t come true. Most of them fed incorrect assumptions into their models, which then lead to incorrect results. However, they considered them to be gospel truths and started to preach about them from their bully pulpit. Maybe, the best humans can do is approximate. Therefore, we should probably call them ‘approximation models‘ instead of ‘prediction models‘.

Eighth lesson learnt: Experts need to replace their crystal ball

Has anybody noticed that experts are mostly wrong? Starting from predicting election outcomes, economic growth, daily weather, the future of the stock market or even individual stocks, natural disasters, etc., they are always wrong. Experts’ predictions during this pandemic have been no exception. They have mostly been wrong. There have been times when they have just lied.

photo of person holding crystal ball
Photo by Bogdan Dirică on
No human-to-human transmission

On January 14 2020, WHO twitted, supporting the assertions made by the Chinese authorities, that there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of COVID-19. China lied and WHO propagated that lie. Could you imagine how many lives could have been saved if China was truthful and WHO wasn’t blindly parroting what the Chinese authorities were saying. Maybe, President Trump is right in his decision to quit WHO stating that the organization is in China’s bag.

No human-to-human transmission COVID-19 WHO Twitter
A screenshot of a tweet from WHO
Mask off/Mask on

Then, it was the turn of experts from CDC. Initially, it was mask off. Now, it is mask on. So, it seems masks do help in preventing infection after all, even if they are 50% effective in blocking virus from entering our respiratory tract. The only reason they initially recommended people not to wear a mask was to prevent a supply shortage of PPE. Go figure!
Why we were told not to wear a mask

Coronavirus Surfaces

Next, it was said that the virus could spread from contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. Now, the advice is that COVID-19 does not spread easily from contaminated surfaces. The operative word is ‘easily’. So, we still need to clean and disinfect surfaces or objects because it can survive on plastic and metal object for 3 days and up to 24 hours on paper surfaces.
Virus cannot spread from surface

Not airborne/airborne

Then, it was not airborne until it was.

COVID-19 is not airborne (WHO Facebook)
Summer heat and humidity

Next, the prediction was as the summer sets in and the humidity increases the rate of infection will decrease, but it seems the summer heat and humidity is hardly making any difference.

Antibodies/No antibodies

Finally, it was no protection from a second infection.

No evidence for immunity COVID-19—WHO

Then, a few days later

Some level of immunity COVID-19—WHO
I don’t know“—The most difficult phrase to utter

We understand that given the dynamics, the experts may not have all the answers for us. Therefore, why can’t the experts just say something along these lines: “We are in unchartered territory now. This is an extremely new virus and we don’t have enough data or knowledge to make proper predictions. The best we can do is make some approximations. As we have additional information and our knowledge is furthered, this will add additional clarity to our knowledge base. Therefore, we think that it is better to err on the side of cautions. Hence, our recommendations for people are: …

Ninth lesson learnt: Most of the humanity suffer from normalcy bias

Most people are clueless when it comes to anticipating headwinds because they believe everything is going to be just fine as it mostly is. They suffer from normalcy bias, which makes them not believe in or ignore warnings. They live in a cocoon they have built for themselves, where nothing can go wrong as most of the times it hasn’t.

time lapse photography of people walking on pedestrian lane
Photo by Mike Chai on

I have lost count of the number of times I have told people around me to make some small adjustments to their lifestyle so as to prepare themselves for what may be coming their way. My contention was that if what I am saying doesn’t happen then no harm to anyone. However, if it does then you are at least prepared.

I was called a doomer, selling doom porn, a debbie downer, or just being negative and worrying too much. I then just stopped trying to wake them up from their slumber and went on with my preparations.

In retrospect, and maybe it is politically incorrect to say this, I think that looking out for myself was the right thing to do. I was able to do what I was able to do, because most people were asleep while I was wide awake. Nobody was rushing for the exits, while I was taking small step towards it.

Floodgates opened

You should have seen what happened to people when one day the government shouted ‘fire’, I mean ‘lockdown’. That’s when the real panic set in.

ATMs ran out of cash almost immediately.

Shops were overcrowded with people trying to trample over each other while buying daily essentials.

The price of vegetables and other necessities skyrocketed as unscrupulous traders started price gouging.

There were long lines outside gas stations.

Pharmacies were overrun.

Liquor stores were mobbed.

Pandemonium everywhere.

Overnight, normalcy bias changed into ‘we are all going to die’ bias.

I felt sorry for the masses walking through life blindfolded. Unfortunately, there is no waking most of them up, even if a disaster comes and kicks them in the butt.

Tenth lesson learnt: Media controlled narratives control the masses

“Now “public opinion” stood out as a force that must be managed, and not through clever guesswork but by experts trained to do that all-important job.”

― Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda

In India’s case, the experts trained to mold and manage “public opinion” are the news and media organization. They control the narratives that control the lives of millions.

action adult aperture blur
Photo by Terje Sollie on

India started taking precautionary measures in the month of January. On January 21 2020, India started thermal screening of passengers from China. However, Indian media made wasn’t interested in this story yet. They were busy controlling the narrative on another front.

So, while I was busy preparing for the coming lockdown, do you know what national media in particular and the masses in general were doing?

In month of January and February, the media and the masses were busy with the following:
  • Citizenship Amendment Act
  • Protests that ensued after the act was passed by the parliament
  • Shaheen Bagh protests
  • Delhi riots and
  • Namaste Trump event.

Nothing passed the media’s ‘control narrative filter‘ than the aforementioned items. The media and the government made scant mention of the rising cases in the country.

It was a few days after president Trump’s visit to India did the Indian government finally decide to act. Only then did the media started reporting on this pandemic and only then did it get on the radar of the masses.

By middle of March, the government started formalizing plans with number of cases rising in the country. It was on March 17 2020 that the government issued an advisory on maintaining social distancing in public places. On March 22 2020, there was a one day Janata curfew. Finally, on March 25 the government imposed a 21 day nation-wide lockdown.

Eleventh lesson learnt: A stitch in time…

It is my humble opinion that India lost precious time during January and February, because the government and the nation was focused on issues other than this pandemic. Even allowing a month’s time for the government machinery to kickstart into action, we should have started taking precautionary measures by the first week of February. However, we only acted in mid-March, by then the virus had already taken a foothold in this country. Now, it will take a super human effort to bring it under control.

close up of snail on ground
Photo by invisiblepower on

I hate to sound repetitive, but I was the only one telling people in the month of February that, as a nation, we are focused on the wrong things and will pay the price eventually. Matter of fact, I even stopped relatives and acquaintances from visiting our house in the month of march to protect my high at risk mom.


I know a very influential person in our city; I have worked for him. In the month of January, he wanted to stop by to meet me. I said ‘No’ and told him the reason behind it—”The virus is extremely contagious and spreading fast. My mother is at high risk, and I cannot allow anyone who has been travelling extensively to visit our house. And I cannot meet you outside in person, because I don’t want to carry something back home. Matter of fact, you being a senior citizen, I think you should stop your travels immediately and be homebound till this virus is brought under control.” I think he was surprised and somewhat offended by my response.

Anyway, later on, after the lock down was announced, he called me up one day to say, “You were the first person in this country to warn me of this virus and advise me to stay home. Nobody I know, even people in the government who have the responsibility to manage and control responses to these events had it on their radar. Your foresight and clairvoyance are impressive.

I felt like saying, “You don’t need to be a clairvoyant to see a tsunami headed your way. Simple common sense and some deductive reasoning are enough.” But I didn’t.

Twelfth lesson learnt: We are our worst enemy

We are one of the most undisciplined nations out there.  The surge in COVID-19 cases is our doing and nobody else’s. I won’t be surprised if when everything is said and done we are at number one or two with regard to the most COVID-19 cases. Our chalta hai attitude, which loosely translated means ‘Don’t sweat it; it is going to be okay‘, is our achilles heel and will be our undoing.

yellow and black caution wet floor sign
Photo by Tim Mossholder on


We do not follow the COVID-19 protocols laid down by the authorities thinking nothing will happen to us. We will not wear facemasks properly. If we are donning one it is either only covering our mouth and not our nose, or it is hanging by our neck. I visited a bank recently, and the lady who was helping me had lipstick stains on the inside of her N95 mask. The inside of the mask was probably teeming with more germs than the outside air, but it didn’t seem to bother her.

I have seen people washing disposable masks and wearing them thereby rendering their protection ineffective. People are unwilling to wear a mask because they have to smoke or chew tobacco or ghutka and spit, although spitting in public places is now an offense. I have seen people coughing and spitting out phlegm, while the mask dangles from one ear.

Social distancing

Then there are people do not seem to understand the meaning of social distancing. If you tell them that you are standing too close to me, then they will glare at you. Some of them claim that this is a massive hoax and it is just a different type of infectious flu. It may be so, but if my at risk mom catches this infectious flue, then, there is no saving her. So, I have to protect myself because I have to protect my mom.

Now, although I am doing everything I can to protect myself, my fear is that I may contract it because somebody else feels that (s)he couldn’t care less about following the advice from the health authorities. I hope that I am wrong.

Only time will tell how the COVID-19 end game unfolds. The pandemic’s denouement may surprise us all.

Our Score
Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.