My Tryst with Covid

The third wave has finally ensnared me. My wife got it first and a few days later I showed the same symptoms. The gen in the market is that this wave is milder yet virulent. I wonder what the delta variant must have been like if this knocked me off my feet. The body pain itself was so unbelievably intense. My two bit, don’t be bravehearts and have the mind set, anyways I am going to get it so might as well be done and dusted with it. Take all the precautions which have been advised.

As soon as I got the symptoms, I went for a chest x ray just like my wife did. What cost Rs.2500 a few days back now was a cool Rs.7000, at the same diagnostic center. What could have warranted this increase I just could not figure out.

It looks like the pharmaceutical and associated industries are making hay while the sun shines. First wave caught everyone unaware. Before we knew it the second wave hit. Now they are battle ready. How do you explain a diagnostic center hiking it’s fee three fold in 3 days.

My Twitter handle carried a feed of a Japanese ice cream manufacturer who hiked their fee up by 9 cents after 25 years. They launched a 60 second commercial to apologize to the public. What an amazing culture to foster.

In contrast, look at the health industry which obviously has no moral fiber. In the time of need they are ruthlessly hiking fees with no conscience.

I come from a family of doctors. So when we contracted Covid we were advised to take the new cocktail of antibodies available in the market.

It costs Rs.1.12 lakhs. The carton comes with two vials and the prescribed dose from each vial is 50%. This is to be administered over a period of 3 hours intravenously. Effectively I should be charged Rs.56,000.

That is not the case though, one of Bangalore’s premium hospital where I went for treatment charged the entire amount for both the vials. It is anyone’s guess what they must be doing with the remaining 50% dosage from the two vials, after charging patients the full amount. Come on don’t tell me a big hospital will not have a steady stream of Covid patients who need this cocktail?  In my case I simply carried the remaining dose back with me, on ice, requesting them to inform me in case there was a needy patient.

This episode has greatly distressed me because it leads to another angle. If the recommended dosage is 50% from each vial then why has the pharmaceutical company not made a stock keeping unit with the appropriate dosage? Why double the quantity and that too which must be used within 16 hours of opening. It is nothing but daylight robbery. The pharma and healthcare system are all hand in glove. They always have been but one would imagine that in the midst of a monstrous global pandemic overflowing into a third year, there would be some softening somewhere, but “A leopard can’t change it’s spots”. Besides in the absence of an ethical government body monitoring this, no regulations exist to counter these kind of colossal heists. It is indeed a sorry state of affairs and my heart goes out to the common man who battles Covid.

Opinions in this piece belong to the author: Ramesh Kumar Shah

Ramesh Kumar Shah is the founder of the RK Group, founder of RK Trust (rktrust.in) and co-founder of Harvard Business School Angels of India. Apart from being a businessman, he is keenly involved in making as much of a difference in people’s lives as he can, most recently through the Let’s Mask India initiative, that provides a free mask to all the residents of Bangalore.

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