Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
India recorded 1,15,736 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the biggest-ever single-day spike since the onset of the pandemic, taking the overall tally to 12,801,785 on Wednesday. The steep incline in cases is very concerning, as the new Covid variants have infiltrated the population, and some of these variants are known to be more infectious and lethal, said Manisha Juthani, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine and Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist.
She added that long-lasting symptoms after Covid will be a worldwide problem and nearly 30 per cent people are likely to suffer from long Covid.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: India is amid the second wave of coronavirus. The rise in cases is too steep, sharper than the first wave. Is it consistent with the pattern seen in other virus pandemics?
A: This steep incline in cases in India is very concerning for new Covid variants infiltrating the population. Some of these variants are known to be more infectious and lethal. The highest concentration of cases is in Maharashtra with Mumbai being a travel hub. This suggests that travellers have brought in variants which are rapidly spreading in the population.
Q: Usually, experts say human behaviour is considered a major factor linked with a spike in coronavirus cases. But some experts also point at a probability of a new strain, possibly behind the second wave, which maybe infectious, not fatal, leading to a surge in cases in many places in India?
A: New variants from around the world have been identified in India. There is the concern of the ‘double mutant’ in India that has also now been identified in San Francisco. Anecdotally, I know of several people in India that have tested negative for Covid, but who have all the clinical features suggestive of Covid. Sometimes, one member of the family tests positive but the others test negative, all with the same symptoms. It is possible that a variant is spreading with a mutation that results in false negative tests. This is particularly concerning because other family members can get exposed if they believe the index patient does not have Covid. When the first wave was receding in India, it seemed that variants may not have yet reached. With the current explosion in cases, variants seem to at least be playing a part.
Q: Long Covid is emerging as a major problem in the UK. Do you think, globally it could be a major issue too?
A: Long Covid will be a worldwide problem. Up to 30 per cent of infected individuals worldwide may end up suffering from long term symptoms. Some promising news is that vaccination seems to ease these symptoms in some people.
Please Follow NewsGram on Facebook To Get Latest Updates!
Q: Experts say that seasonal change has no effect on coronavirus. There were some locations, for example Delhi (at the onset of winter season), which saw a high number of coronavirus infections early on, followed by a decline (December-January), is facing a “second wave” of increased cases, at the beginning of summer season in March.
A: We have been learning about Covid for over a year now. The anticipated seasonal variation that occurs with other respiratory viruses has not consistently proven to be the case. The common thread for spread appears to be close contact, particularly in indoor settings. In the winter season, indoor gatherings seem to be a source of spread because people remain indoors for warmth. In hot locations in the summer, indoor gatherings also seem to be sources of spread, likely because it is too hot to remain outdoors, and people gather indoors. Heating and air conditioning might even contribute to the spread of viral particles.
Q: Is there a possibility that a second wave may not lead to increase in fatality or increase in Covid patient’s admission to Intensive Care Unit (ICU), however the viral infection may have a long-lasting health impact in patients, for example, kidney, live or lungs damage?
A: Given that hospitals already appear to be filling up in many parts of India, it seems likely that hospitals will continue to feel the burden of caring for Covid patients. In addition, we know that appropriately 30 per cent of Covid patients can go on to have chronic symptoms such as shortness of breath or fatigue. End organ damage can happen with Covid as well, particularly after long hospitalizations. I anticipate that India will have a surge in hospitalized patients in addition to those that suffer long term consequences of Covid.
Q: Experts say young people may be behind the increase in cases. Is it possible that young people, who have contracted the new strains of coronavirus, are spreading it to more than one person, leading to a spike in cases?
A: Vaccinations have begun in India, but many young people are not vaccinated yet. Adults in their 20s and 30s remain the most social thereby transmitting the virus from one another. This age group may also be travelling more. The US is seeing a surge of cases among young adults primarily because of congregating behaviours and because the youngest adults have not been eligible for the vaccine until now. In India, older adults are still getting infected, either because they haven’t received the vaccine yet, only received one dose, or are exposed to other people. It is unclear if the current spike is because of young people, but young adults have always been the most likely to engage in social behaviours and get infected.
Q: The US and Europe have already faced the second wave of coronavirus, is there any learning for India from the western countries?
A: Throughout the world, when public health measures (masking and physical distancing) have been put in place, cases have been controlled. Lockdowns have been necessary and effective in various regions of the world. With a very steep rise in cases, in order to maintain hospital capacity, more restrictions will be necessary. (IANS/KR)
Former cricketers have questioned the timing of Virat Kohli's announcement that he will step down as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain at the end of the IPL 2021 season, saying "if you want to do that, you probably do it after the tournament". Three days back, Kohli had also dropped a bombshell -- just a month before the ICC World T20 to begin -- that he will stand down from Team India T20 captaincy after the mega sporting spectacle in UAE and Oman.
On Sunday night, he shared the news on Twitter - just hours before their first game in the resumed IPL 2021 on Monday -- that he will quit RCB captaincy as well. The timings of both the announcements have left the former cricketers a bit "surprised". They believe that Kohli has "unsettled" his RCB side.
The timings of both the announcements have left the former cricketers a bit "surprised" | Wikimedia Commons
The match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the United Arab Emirates will be'Kohli's 200th for Bangalore. Former India opener Gautam Gambhir said Kohli's timing had surprised him and would not help Bangalore's quest for a first IPL title. "If you want to do that, you probably do it after the tourn"ment," Gambhir said on Star Sp"rts. "Because it makes the team unsettled and emotional as well." Whereas, former batsman Sanjay Manjrekar said, "I am just curious about both the announcements as to why he had to do it before the tournaments," Manjrekar was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Kohli was made Bangalore's captain in 2013, but despite his superstar status, the team's best finish was losing in 2016 final. Kohli insisted his decision had been "well thought (out) and in the best interest of this wonderful franchise". (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Kohli, RCB, captain, KKR, India
By Himanshu Agarwal
There is no exaggeration in saying that Covid-19 has literally taken over our lives. Whether vaccinated or not, most of us are still living in the shadow of fear and anxiety. In fact with breakthrough infections showing up for some, even the vaccinated do not feel completely safe from a possible assault of the virus. The finding that the virus can be airborne is scary enough, research also shows that the transmission of the coronavirus is higher indoors than outdoors. This means that even if you don't step out and think that the virus can't get to you because you are ensconced safely and comfortably indoors, the bad news is that you can still get infected.
So, what should you do to keep the virus at bay while being confined indoors? While taking other precautions, keeping the indoor air sanitized, and constantly so, is one big answer to this.
Indoor aerosols a carrier of coronavirus
Unlike the earlier dominant belief that only respiratory droplets could spread infection, it has been established now that the tiny aerosols in the air can carry the coronavirus. These aerosols which are smaller and lighter than respiratory droplets can not only stay longer in the air but also carry the virus farther and for a longer time. The assumption that only by making contact with a contaminated surface one can get the virus, is no more valid.
Aerosols which are smaller and lighter than respiratory droplets can not only stay longer in the air but also carry the virus farther and for a longer time. | Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash
Several natural human activities carried out Indoors
We must remember that a lot of our daily natural and basic activities are conducted in our indoor spaces many of which involve active and oral expulsion of particles. From talking to shouting to sneezing and coughing to even singing, every one of these acts and others creates aerosols in the air which whether we like it not, continue to be exchanged with the others. In fact, many of these activities create more aerosols than even breathing. So, if we do not repeatedly ventilate the room and purify the air within, we can always be susceptible to be infected by others. Even if a house has no Covid patient, the risk of the virus being transmitted through the air from the neighbours or temporary staff can never be ruled out.
From talking to shouting to sneezing and coughing to even singing, every one of these acts and others creates aerosols in the air which whether we like it not, continue to be exchanged with the others. | Photo by Shazaf Zafar on Unsplash
Indoor air is naturally more unsafe than outdoor
As opposed to outdoor air which has natural circulation, unfortunately, indoor air doesn't have the same advantage. In India, the outdoor air itself isn't healthy enough for the human respiratory and health system due to the high amount of PM2.5, PM1.0 and other pollutants. So, without timely ventilation and purification, the chances of indoor air getting stale and unhygienic and thereby becoming more conducive to the 'designs' of coronavirus become very high. Add to this, there are recent studies that prove the possibility of PM2.5 particles being potential carriers of coronavirus, carrying them too much larger distances in the air. The high temperature and humidity which often characterizes our tropical climate add to the woes. (IANS/ MBI)
The outdoor air itself isn't healthy enough for the human respiratory and health system due to the high amount of PM2.5, PM1.0 and other pollutants. | Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash
Keywords: Pollution, pollutants, indoorm outdoor, air, covid, aerosol
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution are up to 50 per cent more likely to self-harm later in life, suggested a study that adds to evidence of link between air pollution and mental health problems. Researchers from the University of Manchester in England and Aarhus University examined 1.4million kids under 10 in Denmark and found that those exposed to a high level of nitrogen dioxide were more likely to self harm in adulthood than their peers, the Daily Mail reported.
And people in the same age group exposed to above average levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were 48 per cent more likely to subsequently self-harm, revealed the study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Nitrogen dioxide is mainly produced by cars, while PM2.5 is mainly emitted by burning diesel and petrol, which is most commonly used for shipping and heating. These two pollutants are among those most commonly linked with causing harm to physical health, such as heart and lung diseases, by getting into the bloodstream and causing inflammation.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok, a research fellow at Manchester University was quoted as saying. "Although air pollution is widespread, it is a modifiable risk factor and we therefore hope our study findings will inform policymakers who are devising strategies to combat this problem," Mok added.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok | Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
While the researchers have not explained the mechanism for how these pollutants can cause mental health problems, they say high pollution levels could trigger inflammation in the brain, leading to mental health conditions, the report said. Childhood is a 'sensitive time for brain development', so youngsters may be 'particularly susceptible' to negative effects from toxic particles in the air, they added.
Further, the team found that some 32,984 people (2.3 per cent) harmed themselves in the study period, with cases higher among women, those whose parents had mental illness and individuals from poorer families. Exposure to an average of 19 microgram/m3 or more of particulate matter each day was associated with a 48 per cent higher chance of self-harming later in life, compared to children exposed to an average of 13 microgram/m3 per day or less. And for every 5 microgram/m3 increase in exposure above 19 microgram/m3, the risk of self harm rose by 42 per cent. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: pollution, kids, exposure, pollution, self-harm, development