The Coronavirus lockdown has turned out to be a blessing for the animal kingdom, and various instances are being reported about animals roaming around freely while their human counterparts remain at home. However, for many animals, the lockdown comes as a threat. Here’s a list of pros and cons of the global lockdown on the animal world.
Animals are taking back the human space while the world is under lockdown. They are now roaming around and living their life to the fullest without much fear. Here are certain instances:
Favorable Conditions For Migratory Birds
Incessant rain and spells of hailstorm resulted in a pleasant March weather, prolonging the migratory birds’ stay in the northern wetlands of India. The factors arising out of negligible human interference–no traffic overflow, limited pollution, tourists–due to lockdown, served an ideal environment to host the birds for over two weeks more than their usual departure time.
Some reports can still be spotted in the northern wildlife sanctuaries. More than 100,000 flamingos were spotted in wetlands in the suburbs of Mumbai, painting the waters with a flash of pink as the construction works are put on hold in the areas. It is estimated that the migration of flamingos increased by 25 per cent than last year.
Noise Pollution-Free Atmosphere
Apart from the reduction in the conventional air and water pollutions, global lockdown has brought the levels of anthropogenic noise emission significantly. Birds are seemingly the most benefited due to this.
Birds send signals to each other for communication, mating, and defense from predators by singing. They had to adapt to the pre-lockdown noisy world by singing louder. They are relieved from that burden now, leading to rising bird-sightings in the surroundings.
According to studies, noise carries adverse effects on creatures ranging from frogs, shrimps, mussels, to fish, snakes, and mammals. The noise generated from oil and gas activities in ocean basins, the din of aircraft, and the noise from terrestrial sources like traffic, industries, households, make it difficult for the animal to thrive.
Less shipping has apparently made the whales calmer by lowering their stress hormones.
Global Wildlife Trade Takes Limelight
The source of Coronavirus has allegedly been identified to be a market selling wild animals for human consumption in Wuhan, China bringing the global wildlife trade in the headlines.
With the virus outbreak, China introduced a ban on all farming and consumption of live wildlife, which is expected to become a law in the country.
UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Wildlife Conservation Society of USA, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, and other countries are urging governments to ban “wet markets” selling live, dead animals for consumption, prevent poaching of wildlife, also put an end to illegal trafficking.
The devastation of Coronavirus and resulting large-scale lockdown have indeed triggered action against global wildlife trade.
Though lockdown has given the animals some liberty, it comes with some threat as well for them. Below are some instance where animals badly affected due to lockdown:
Frequent Animal Attacks
As the lack of human activity emboldens animals, they are venturing into human territories, increasing the frequency of animal attacks.
As per sources, over 13 people have died due to animal attacks in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. A Himalayan Black Bear searching for food attacked an engineer in Gangtok, Sikkim; leopards have been sighted in Dehra Dun, Mussoorie, Jammu and Kashmir, Mumbai colony, and have killed two persons; tigers and elephants have killed four persons each in various parts of India.
Due to lockdown, animals are having a false sense of expanded territory and entering human residencies, increasing the chances of an encounter.
Zoo Animals Lacking Human Attention
As zoos across the world are closed due to lockdown, zookeepers express their concerns that the most intelligent and social animals like Otters, meerkats, and gorillas are getting bothered as they are deprived of the human touch.
Nathan Hawke from New Zealand’s Orana Wildlife Park said that many rare and endangered animals continued to show up for their regular public interaction sessions, though they had no audience.
Amidst the lockdown, news about a tiger at the Bronx Zoo testing positive for Coronavirus emerged. The tiger, along with six other big cats, began showing symptoms like dry cough, reportedly contracted from an asymptomatic zookeeper.
Major Threat For Vulnerable Species
Species that depend on human conservation efforts are highly at risk as people who protect their habitats are under lockdown. With the tourism industry shutting down, there is mass unemployment in the ecotourism and conservation sectors, as in the case of Africa, which is heavily dependent on tourism.
According to the Africa regional managing director of the Nature Conservancy, “Anything with a horn right now, like rhinos, is at risk of being poached.” He fears that they could lose the last ten years’ good conservation work and even the fact that the people who are sacked from jobs could turn to poaching to support their families as they have limited alternative scope for earning. Moreover, island habitats are also reliant on human conservation.
Without human invigilation, the population of invasive species, like rats, can explode and wreak havoc on the native species that aren’t adapted to deal with mammals, like ground-nesting seabirds. Stalled scientific research could also harm the animal world.
Therefore, though the healing nature is at its vibrant best during Coronavirus lockdown, the situation also has a severe downside.
Hypocrisy of Federalism: Reply on Oxygen Related Deaths
On Tuesday, the Union Health Ministry reported to the Parliament that no deaths were recorded due to a lack of oxygen across the country during the second wave of the pandemic.
The officials and ministers in eight states also denied fatalities due to the lack of oxygen. Whereas reports indicate that approximately 320 patients may have died in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to oxygen shortage.
The report by the Union Health Ministry to the Parliament has triggered massive criticism across the country. It has also prompted some significant accusations against the Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP].
The denial of the officials and ministers of the eight states regarding the same has also triggered a major rebuttal from within their parties, accusing them of aiding the Centre in hiding oxygen-related deaths.
According to a volunteer-driven data collation effort, DataMeet, Media from across 20 states report that there were approximately 619 deaths recorded due to lack of oxygen. However, later the cause of deaths was disputed with other factors that attributed to the fatalities.
The state health minister of Maharashtra, Rajesh Tope also sided with the Centre’s stand of no-oxygen-related deaths.
“As far as Maharashtra is concerned, we have never said that any death due to oxygen shortage,” he said to a local TV channel on Wednesday.
However, in April and May, the shortage of oxygen supply in the state had prompted the Chief Minister, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, to request the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to inspect the proposal of pressing the Indian Air Force to arrange additional oxygen supplies for the state.
A medical board in Hisar- a region in Haryana, had openly established oxygen shortage as a cause of deaths in the region.
Additionally, after an inquiry, 22 patients succumbed to Covid due to the lack of oxygen in Haryana.
According to the reports of DataMeet, figures indicated that approximately 68 deaths took place across the state of Madhya Pradesh due to lack of oxygen.
However, Vishwas Sarang, the medical education Minister, stated, “We received at least 10-12 complaints related to deaths due to oxygen supply disruption. Medical experts found the cause of death was other medical complications, not hypoxia,”
In Goa, between May 10- May 14, approximately 83 patients succumbed to death.
But according to Dr Shivanand Bandekar, the Dean of Goa Medical College and Hospital stated, “We can’t put this as a direct answer. People who come to GMC, they are all referred because we are a tertiary (care) center where criticality is high and most of the patients die because of Covid pneumonia where oxygen is a part of the treatment. So we cannot directly say this (disruption in the oxygen supply) is the reason why they have died,”
However, during the hearing at Goa at the time of these deaths, the state government had admitted that “some of the casualties may have taken place” due to supply disruption.
Within the same hearing, the Bombay High Court had said, “We have long passed the stage of determining whether patients are suffering from the lack of oxygen or not. The material placed before us establishes that patients are indeed suffering and even in some cases succumbing for want of the supply of oxygen, in the State of Goa.”
Officials and ministers of several states like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh took a similar stand while siding with the Centre on their “no deaths due to Oxygen shortage” statement.
Even though various reports and data reflect a significant number of deaths due to a shortage of oxygen supply within different states, the Center and the state officials have refused to acknowledge them and have denied that these fatalities are attributed to the lack of oxygen supply.
Health Activist Amulya Nidhi from Madhya Pradesh, claims that volunteer groups from across the country have clear case studies and data that report deaths of patients across various states due to a lack of oxygen supply. “If they are so sure about it, they should allow an independent team of experts to probe the matter,” he said.
Why Are people Not Taking Covid Vaccine?
Since the beginning of the Pandemic in 2020, all people have wanted is to find a way back to normal. A way from virtual lives to real, social lives. Being trapped at home with limited movement has been fun for no one. And yet, when a solution is finally being offered, people are hesitant to embrace it. Vaccines are the solution to once and for all immunise us against this virus, but many people fail to embrace the cure. Even though the vaccination reduces risks in exposure to the mutating variants of the Novel Coronavirus, there are people reluctant to take the possibly life-saving shot.
A vaccine race began throughout the world to curb the spread of Covid, India being one of the leaders. Immunisation is proven to be the most successful means to prevent diseases. Still, there is always hesitance that follows with the process. Many reasons cause vaccine hesitancy, but three of the main reasons are inadequate knowledge and fear of side effects, the speed of vaccine development, and rumours and myths.
The biggest fear that prevents people from taking the vaccine is a fear of side effects caused by inadequate knowledge. Many of us might show reluctance in taking the vaccine, fearing the severity of side effects. This tends to happen because most people do not understand how a vaccine works and nudges our bodies to create antibodies in our system to immunise us to the virus.
Many people reason that the side effects make them sick when they have been in perfect health for so long. They believe that it is the vaccine that makes them sick. This cannot be further from the truth. The public needs to be made aware of the workings of the vaccine to promote the vaccination drive around the world.
The other cause for hesitancy is the speed at which the vaccines have been developed. Many people believe that simply because the development speed of Covid immunising shots was quicker as compared to past viruses, corners have been cut in the process. It is essential to know that this is not true as all the procedures have been followed during the development of vaccines. None of them have been permitted for distribution without clinical trials and the approval of the FDA.
The last reason is that of rumours and myths. The rural population, a key demographic in our country, is reluctant to take the vaccine due to a lack of information provided to them. The inadequacy makes them quick to believe in rumours and myths surrounding immunisation, consequently making them reluctant to participate in the process. Reports of death post the vaccine have fanned the rumour mills in rural areas regarding the fatality of the vaccine.
Hesitancy in vaccination can also be seen in another key demographic, women. The proof for this in India is the disparity in men’s vaccination ratios which are starkly contrasting. Rumours and myths surrounding vaccines have led the population to believe that taking the jab affects fertility in women. It is essential to know that vaccinations do not cause infertility in men or women. It is this kind of rumour-mongering that causes fear in people.
Misleading tweets by prominent figures also cause vaccine hesitancy. One prime example is senior advocate Prashant Bushan, whose tweets about the efficacy and safety of covid vaccines were tagged as “misleading” by Twitter.
Misinformation being spread by prominent people is another cause of reluctance in people not taking the vaccine, which must be stopped to defeat the Pandemic.
Many people who have already suffered from Coronavirus also believe that they do not need the vaccine as they are already immune to the disease. This is a falsehood that needs to be cleared as a vaccine prolongs the effectiveness of the immunisation, keeping the person safe for a more extended period.
Vaccines are preventative medicines that allow us to acquire immunity against the virus, preparing our bodies to protect us in case of exposure to the disease. While vaccination may not provide complete safety, it reduces the severity of the infection and the chances of death.
With newer and stronger variants emerging as mutations of the Coronavirus, all of us must be fully vaccinated. It is the only way to ensure the safety of ourselves and those around us. It is also the only way to make a return slowly but surely to what we knew as “normal” and stop living life as we have known for the past one and a half years.
"No one from govt has come to visit us or order an enquiry into my wife's death.I still curse myself for persuading my wife to take the vaccine.I thought it would save us from the virus, but it killed her".
The govt is not monitoring adverse events from vaccine nor releasing data pic.twitter.com/pcJv9cqUYW
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 28, 2021
ZyCov-D Proposed As World’s First DNA COVID Vaccine
With the Delta Variant setting its wave globally, ZyCoV-D, India’s first Plasmid DNA Covid-19 vaccine, is in the running for an Emergency Use Authorization from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). Vaccine maker Zydus Cadila, which already has anti-Covid treatments on the market, claims to have conducted the largest clinical trial in India so far at over 50 centres, with over 28,000 volunteers ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old.
According to the firm, with its 66.6 per cent effectiveness for RT-PCR positive patients in the interim study, ZyCov-D has already demonstrated solid immunogenicity, tolerance, and safety profile. It went on to say that no moderate instances of Covid-19 were seen in the vaccination arm after the third dose was administered, indicating a 100 per cent effectiveness for mild illness.
What is Zydus’ approach?
By mid-August, the business intended to be manufacturing 10 million doses each month, according to managing director Sharvil Patel. “We are currently only focusing our efforts on making sure we can make doses available for India,” Patel said in a virtual news conference. If the injection is approved, it will become the country’s sixth vaccination to be approved for use.
Patel added that data on immunogenicity for the adolescent children subgroup would be submitted in the next four to six weeks.
The pharmaceutical company has also provided data on a two-dose regimen for the injection.
What are DNA vaccines?
ZyCoV-D, if authorized, will be the world’s first DNA vaccine, according to Zydus, since it uses a piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic code – DNA or RNA – to trigger an immune response against the virus’s spike protein.
How are DNA vaccines Different from mRNA vaccines?
In contrast to the viral vector vaccines or inactivated vaccines like Covishield and Covaxin, DNA and RNA vaccines trigger an immune response by using a portion of the virus’s genes.
The distinction between DNA and RNA vaccinations is that the latter is passed on to a different molecule known as messenger RNA. The DNA vaccination also uses a tiny electrical pulse to convey the message to the cell.
DNA and RNA vaccines are less expensive than standard protein vaccinations. They are praised for their efficacy and capacity to be produced more quickly. Because DNA and RNA vaccines rely on genetic code rather than a live virus or bacterium. They may theoretically be made more widely available.
According to research published in the medical journal Frontiers in Immunology in 2019, “preclinical andclinical trials have shown that mRNA vaccines provide a safe and long-lasting immune response inanimal models and humans.”
According to WHO, DNA vaccines have a variety of potential advantages over traditional methods, including activation of both B and T cell responses and improved vaccine durability.
Is ZyCov-D needle-free?
A needle-free injectable method is reported to be used to deliver ZyCoV-D. (NFIS). In most NFISs, a jet of fluid is accelerated to a high enough speed to penetrate the skin through a tiny diameter nozzle. The vaccination may have a greater acceptance rate among youngsters who are afraid of needles, according to Sharvil Patel, managing director of Cadila Healthcare.
The three doses of Zycov-D should be given on days 0, 28, and 56, according to Zydus Cadila. The firm is, however, working on a two-dose vaccination.
According to the company’s information, the vaccine candidate may be stored for a long time at two to eight degrees Celsius and for a brief time at 25 degrees Celsius.
What does the Government have to say about the indemnity of the Vaccine?
The Government is still deliberating whether vaccine makers should be indemnified, as Pfizer and Moderna have asked. While a final decision is still pending, key authorities have stated that there is agreement.
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