Mumbai: A young Mumbai medico, Dr Shrushti D. Halari - who shot into national headlines after getting infected thrice by COVID - now vows to ensure the virus doesn't attack her a fourth time.
Dr Shrushti, 26, was first infected on June 17, 2020, while on COVID-19 duty at BMC's Veer Savarkar Hospital in Mulund, and twice again in May and July, after getting fully vaccinated.
She hails from a Gujarati family of medicos, originally of Dholera, with her father Dr Deepak, mother Dr Vaishali, and her younger brother Dhawal, studying for his MBBS, are all fully vaccinated.
Dr Shrushti completed her 3-month assignment and was at home preparing for her MD and later higher medical studies in the US. The entire family also took the two doses of Covishield vaccines in early-March and late-April.
However, the family was perturbed when Dr Shrushti was infected for the second time - on May 29 - despite having been fully vaccinated, but recovered fully.
The big shock came on July 11, when the entire Halari family was infected and hospitalized, put on Remdesivir, barely 3 months after their second vaccine doses.
Not suffering from any comorbidity, Dr Shrushti's third encounter with COVID-19 stunned even the medical fraternity with the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation officials and other experts terming it as "an unprecedented, extremely rare occurrence".
The BMC has taken the swabs of Dr Shrushti and Dhawal for further analysis by Foundation for Medical Research, to ascertain the type of COVID-19 variant/s that may have struck the Halari family - three with comorbidities, and after getting fully inoculated.
The third time in July "was probably due to Dr Shrushti's low immunity levels on account of her two previous infections and the likely new strains of the virus that are coming to the fore in recent months", surmised Dr Vaishali.
"Actually, even the doctors initially did not believe it was possible, but after our physician Dr Mehul Thakkar's advice, she went for the tests which came positive and she was hospitalized early the next morning," added Dr Vaishali, narrating the harrowing time the Halari household had experienced.
"This has been very tough for the entire family. Now, we shall ensure there is no 4th time," Dr Shrushti said with soft determination. (to IANS).
Dr Vaishali, 48, said the reason the family could emerge from COVID-19 successfully was due to their vaccination doses, medical knowledge, catching the symptoms in time and getting prompt treatment.
"We consider ourselves fortunate to be fully vaccinated as later it proved to be beneficial for all of us," Dr Vaishali, who is a severe diabetic patient, as also her son Dhawal, 21, and husband Dr Deepak, 56, who suffers from high blood pressure and cholesterol, told IANS.
She pointed out that the vaccination doses also helped ensure that their infection was not so severe and now the entire family has completely recovered.
Commenting on the issue, Mumbai researcher-cum-scientist Dr Pradeep Mahajan - Chairman of StemRx Biosciences Solutions Pvt Ltd, said that there's "no permanent cure" for COVID-19 in the world.
"It can strike even after full vaccination as the virus keep mutating, so inoculation is not a 100 per cent guarantee of avoiding COVID-19 altogether," Dr Mahajan - who has pioneered the unique stem cell/platelet-based remedy for the disease, told IANS.
He said that at the rate the virus mutants are being detected, in the near future, vaccination may become compulsory every year, and some global pharma giants are already preparing to give a third booster dose to people in Europe and other countries.
Now in the national limelight, the Halari family is keeping fingers crossed, taking all precautions and adhering to all COVID protocols to keep the virus from visiting their home again.