Why does India have so many cases of COVID? | News on the coronavirus pandemic

Something has gone wrong in India. Today, the country reported 346,786 new cases of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, with 2,624 deaths – the world highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic last year. Overall, nearly 190,000 people have died from COVID in the country, while more than 16.6 million have been infected.

The new epidemic in India is so severe that hospitals are running out of oxygen and beds, and many sick people are being turned away.

New Zealand, Hong Kong, the UK and the US have either banned direct flights to and from India, or have advised citizens against traveling together; and the list could go on and on.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who wants to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the country, has been forced to cancel a planned trip to India next week and instead plans to meet with President Narendra Modi virtually.

For a country where the number of COVID seemed to have dropped dramatically just a few weeks ago, what went so wrong in India?

The Indian variant, known as B.1.617, appears to be make a carnage in the countryside. As of April 15, India has reported more than 200,000 cases of coronavirus every day and its capital Delhi recently announced a weeklong lockdown after an increase in cases overwhelmed the health system.

“If we don’t impose a lockdown now, we could face a more serious calamity,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said as he addressed the city on Indian TV on the 19th. April. oxygen supplies in hospitals appear to be exhausted, with reports of sick patients being turned away from hospitals and social media feeds filled with distraught family members whose loved ones cannot access the health care they need.

On Wednesday this week, as the COVID toll increased, Delhi’s highest court made the unusual decision to publicly criticize the central government and its approach to handling the country’s oxygen crisis. The court heard a petition filed by Max Hospitals asking for urgent help to address the oxygen shortage she was facing at six of her hospitals in the capital. “Human lives are not so important to the state as it means. We are shocked and dismayed that the government does not appear to be aware of the extremely urgent need for medical oxygen, ”said the bench. “We order the Center to provide a safe passage … so that these supplies are not obstructed for any reason,” he said. “Hell will break loose [if oxygen is not supplied]. Damning words for the government in times of crisis.

It is not entirely clear why this outbreak occurred in India, but it is likely that it was due to the overcrowded events staged in the run-up to the elections – President Modi himself took the electoral trail during the elections. Election rallies in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry on March 30 as business began to pick up. Large groups and social gatherings on religious holidays also played a role, as well as the reopening of public spaces and the easing of lockdowns that took place gradually throughout 2020 with the final ‘unlocking’ of restrictions. intervened in December 2020.

The emergence of new variants of the coronavirus in India is also of great concern. The dominant strain in the country is currently believed to be the variant that was first identified in the UK and has been shown to be up to 60% more transmissible between humans.

On March 25, it was further announced that a new “double mutant” variant had been detected in India, now known as the “Indian variant”. This development is what frightened other countries.

Authorities in India do not believe this new variant has become the dominant COVID strain in the country yet, but it is likely to contribute to the increase in numbers.

Sequencing of the genome of the new variant has shown that it has two important mutations:

1. The E484Q mutation: it is similar to the E484K mutation identified in the Brazilian and South African variants, which have also been reported in recent months. The problem is, this mutation can alter parts of the coronavirus spike protein. The spike protein is part of the outer layer of the coronavirus and is what the virus uses to make contact with human cells. Once contact is made, the coronavirus then uses the spike protein to bind to, penetrate, and infect human cells. The immune response that vaccines stimulate creates antibodies that specifically target the virus spike protein. Therefore, the concern is that if a mutation alters the shape of the spike protein significantly, the antibodies may not be able to recognize and effectively neutralize the virus, even in those who have been vaccinated. Scientists are examining whether this may also be the case for the E484Q mutation.

2. The L452R mutation: it was also found in a variant considered to be responsible for epidemics in California. This variant is believed to increase the ability of the spike protein to bind to human host cells, thereby increasing its infectivity. A study of the mutation also suggests that it could help the virus escape neutralizing antibodies that the vaccine and the previous infection may produce, although this is still being investigated.

This new wave in India has been devastating for the country. A coordinated response is needed between Indian states and the central government to manage the supply of oxygen and essential medicines if the number of COVID-related deaths is to be brought under control. It is also feared that we I don’t know the real number of deaths COVID, as some people died at home before they could get to hospital and many others in India, especially in rural areas, had difficulty accessing testing facilities.

There is an urgent need to lift the pressure on the health system and the only way to do this is to strengthen the vaccination program, strengthen social distancing procedures and reintroduce lockdown measures.

[Illustration by Muaz Kory/Al Jazeera]

In the Doctor’s Office: Teaching Medical Students During a Pandemic

One of my passions as a doctor is to be able to transmit my knowledge to the doctors of tomorrow. I have been doing this for years and am a lecturer at two UK universities.

Much of my teaching involves getting my students to talk and examine patients. This has been a challenge over the past 12 months, as getting patients for surgery to see students was too risky, and patients who tended to have the diseases the students needed to see generally protected themselves. to reduce the chances of them catching it. COVID-19[FEMININE

Les étudiants en médecine ont prêté main-forte aux hôpitaux ravagés par le COVID dans le monde entier, et leur aide a été bien accueillie par beaucoup. Mais nous devons également les préparer à un monde au-delà du COVID et, dans le temps limité dont nous disposons avec eux, nous assurer qu’ils sont préparés à un large éventail de conditions médicales allant du physique au mental. Mais comment pouvons-nous faire cela s’ils étaient incapables de voir les patients comme normaux?

La technologie a été la réponse. Notre cabinet, où je travaille en tant que médecin de famille à Bradford, dans le nord de l’Angleterre, a la chance de disposer d’un laboratoire de compétences cliniques dans lequel les étudiants peuvent apprendre. Il s’agit d’une pièce contenant des parties du corps «modèles» que les étudiants peuvent utiliser à des fins d’examen .

Les étudiants peuvent entrer dans la chirurgie et, dans un premier temps, organiser des consultations téléphoniques avec les patients, parler à de vrais patients qui téléphonent au sujet de leurs maux. Les étudiants enregistrent leurs antécédents médicaux en parlant aux patients et tentent d’élaborer un plan de gestion qu’ils passent ensuite devant moi ou un autre médecin pour approbation.

Parce que les étudiants ne peuvent pas examiner les patients physiquement, nous dressons ensuite une liste des examens que les étudiants auraient effectués et, une fois la liste de leur clinique complète, passons au laboratoire de compétences cliniques. Je leur demande ensuite de pratiquer l’examen qu’ils auraient fait sur les modèles. Cela peut inclure un examen thoracique, un examen rectal ou vaginal. Les modèles peuvent être ajustés de manière à ce que chaque fois que l’élève les utilise, il fasse un résultat d’examen différent, comme une nouvelle bosse ou des bruits respiratoires anormaux. C’est vraiment assez intelligent.

Bien qu’elle ne remplacera jamais vraiment la réalité, cette méthode nous a permis de maintenir l’éducation médicale tout au long de la pandémie – ce qui a mis au défi les écoles de médecine du monde entier.

[Illustration by Muaz Kory/Al Jazeera]

And now the good news: exercise can reduce the risk of COVID

A new study by Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland has shown that regular exercise can reduce the risk of infections like COVID-19 by up to 37 percent. Researchers conducted a large-scale systematic review of 16,698 global epidemiological studies published between January 1980 and April 2020, with world-renowned immunologists and epidemiologists from University College London (UCL) in the UK and the University of Ghent (UGent) in Belgium. as an exercise and sport scientist at the University of Cadiz in Spain and a public health consultant at NHS Lanarkshire (NHSL) in the UK.

They found that doing 30 minutes of exercise, which makes you short of breath and a little sweating five times a week, boosts your immune response to infectious diseases. Regular exercise is believed to increase the number of immune cells in the body acting on the first line of defense – the mucous layer of antibodies. These cells are responsible for identifying foreign agents or “germs” in the body without depressing the rest of the immune system, so it is perfectly safe and protects you against infectious diseases.

We have known for some time about the benefits that exercise can have on a person’s overall physical and mental health. Now, in the days of COVID, it has been shown to help boost your immune system as well. The message is therefore clear; get out and exercise if you can or at the gym if it meets your local COVID guidelines. If neither is possible, your kitchen or living room is a great place to do 30 minutes of dancing, jumping, or anything that floats your boat!

Reader’s Question: Is it safe to go to my hospital appointment during a pandemic?

Over the past 12 months, people have been told repeatedly that the safest place for them is their home and that hospitals are busy treating patients with COVID-19. While this is true, it is also important to remember that other illnesses have not gone away.

I have found that many of my patients do not show up for their appointments for other ailments because they feared catching COVID or thought their illness was not as bad as the coronavirus. Hospitals and doctor’s offices around the world have done everything possible to make much of their buildings COVID-free. This means they can be used for non-COVID-related services and staff working there will not travel to cover COVID services or clinics. So if you get an appointment to go to a clinic or a hospital ward, it is really important that you go.

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