Are we heading back to the Covid-19 disaster?

Dear Readers,

Wish you a very new happy year. Over the past seven decades, we have witnessed path-breaking changes in terms of innovation, research and development in the medical field. With seminal contribution to the furtherance of medical science, Indian doctors and medical experts have made their country proud in the eyes of the world.

Double Helical has been making a difference in the lives of the socially and economically disadvantaged groups through raising awareness as well making voluntary contributions in the areas of education, health, human rights and social services.

The magazine provides a platform to recognize innovation, people, products and services that are helping to transform the healthcare sector in the country and ushering in affordable, high quality and inclusive healthcare for masses.

In the current issue, we focus on current trends of Covid-19. As several countries are witnessing a massive corona virus infection surge, many are worried about the fact whether India is likely to see the fourth Covid wave in the coming months.

The issue became more concerning as Omicron BF.7, which is behind the surge in China, has also been detected in India. But India has no need to worry at this point.

As per Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sources, the next four weeks will be crucial as India may see a Covid surge in January. Even if there is a wave, deaths and hospitalization will be very low, the Health Ministry sources said. The government made random corona virus testing mandatory for two per cent of passengers arriving in each international flight.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya have held meetings to assess the country’s preparedness to deal with a fresh surge in cases.

As per experts, next month is going to be very crucial. For international passengers, Air Suvidha portal is likely to be re-introduced for flyers coming in from Japan, China, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore from next week.

The government had intensified the screening of all passengers who arrived at the four airports in the state immediately after the sudden surge in corona virus cases in China and other countries. Those coming from China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea are mandatorily screened for the virus. The government has already activated a mass fever screening system at the Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Coimbatore airports for early detection of the virus.

Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in some countries, including China and South Korea, the government has sounded an alert and asked States and Union territories to prepare for any eventuality. India has stepped its surveillance and genome sequencing of Covid positive samples. With only 27 per cent of the eligible adult population having taken the precaution dose, government officials have appealed to those due for it to take it.

According to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of India, the government is fully prepared to tackle a potential outbreak. Several countries are administering a third and even fourth Covid-19 booster shot but India, where many fully vaccinated individuals have not taken even one, is not there yet, say experts while stressing on the need for a structured and systematic response.

As Covid-19 gets back on the radar with a surge in China and people worry about another wave in India and whether the government should now allow a second booster shot to add to the two-jab protection, some scientists call for a reality check. A fourth shot of a Covid-19 preventive is unwarranted at the moment as most people in the country are yet to receive a third dose and there is no data available on the utility of a second booster for the currently used vaccines.

The lethality of the corona virus was grossly overestimated by the pace by which it killed the tail-enders i.e. the elderly and the vulnerable, in the nursing homes of Europe early in the pandemic. One paper in Lancet put the ball mark at 20%. Such estimates appearing in high impact journals and mathematical models from Imperial College, London predicting doomsday caused panic which was sustained in spite of subsequent studies which established the infection fatality rates to be many times lower.

A number of serosurveys few months into the pandemic estimated the global Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) with the original Wuhan virus, to be around 0.3% and lower still in countries of Africa and Asia.

A recent meta-analysis by investigators from Stanford University have found infection fatality rates to be in the range of 0.0003% till the age of 19 years, and even in the old say a 69 year old, the infection fatality rate ranged from 0.03% to 0.07% . The royal heirs have turned into commoners – the novel corona virus is as mild as the other circulating corona viruses which causes common cold and is novel no more. Do we need to panic?

So we can say that the surprising mysteries of Covid-19 are still not yet finished. The rapidly worsening China’s Covid situation has raised alarms across the globe. Three years back, China was considered to be the starting point for the inception and spread of viral infections the scariest pandemic the world has ever seen in the history. The story of the pandemics so far is the end is in sight” But, maybe it’s a new beginning.

There is more such interesting and thought-provoking stuff to savour in this issue. So, happy reading!

Thanks and regards

Amresh K Tiwary,

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