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Coronavirus: What West Should Learn From Asian Countries?

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COVID-19: What West Should Learn From Asian Countries?

COVID-19 though originated in China and had hit several Asian countries way before moving to the West, the United States is now the new epicentre of the shifting epidemic.

The number of cases in the West is skyrocketing, and the countries are being forced to take drastic measures, whereas, some Asian countries like Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, are being praised for competently tackling the virus. All these countries have effectively kept the numbers relatively low despite their proximity to mainland China.

There was just a difference of 10 days between the first reported cases in Taiwan and Italy; as of March 28, Taiwan has recorded only 283 cases and two deaths while in Italy there is more than 86,498 cases and 9,134 deaths, overtaking China’s death toll.

It is now the West that poses a threat towards the rest of the world, and the Asian countries are currently battling against the contagion from the West. Italy, Spain, USA, UK, Germany, France, have shown the exponential explosion in cases after weeks of negligence and inaction by their governments. Meanwhile, the Asian countries had been fighting against the deadly pathogen since January, have somewhat managed to wrestle the virus into submission.

Before the advent of COVID-19, some Southeast Asian countries including China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan have had the experience of dealing with infectious diseases like the SARS outbreak of 2003, MERS and Ebola.

Kenji Shibuya, former chief of health policy at World Health Organisation feels these countries “have accumulated knowledge and practices, so there’s room for other countries to learn from their experiences.” The mood of these countries also differs significantly from the sense of confusion and panic in Europe and US, where the people are seemingly surprised with the pandemic and their health systems are not quite prepared to counter it.

Where the Western Countries lacked:

Understanding Gravity of Situation:

The West had around two months to prepare for the outbreak, but they showed an arrogant outlook towards China and other Asian countries that were suffering from the outbreak weeks before them and made a huge mistake by considering that China was too far away from their reach. Moreover, US President Trump chose to downplay the risks of the virus, and encouraged xenophobia by calling it “China virus“.

In Asian countries, early travel restrictions, aggressive testing and screening, contact-tracing, stringent quarantine rules, precise management, universal healthcare, proactive communication had kicked in promptly. Now though the West is going under lockdown, the measures came in way too late.

Extensive Cost-Effective Tests

South Korea was extensively affected following China, and it swiftly developed testing kit by the end of January, when it had fewer than ten infections. Now 2,90,000 people have been tested with about 10,000 people being tested daily. The urgency in its approach was facilitated due to its MERS-experience of 2015.

On the contrary, the initial testing kits of US were faulty; private labs couldn’t get their tests approved; people couldn’t afford the expenses of getting tested. Thailand provided free testing and treatment of high-risk patients, and as a result, 95 per cent of over 4800 patients under inspection had voluntarily gone to hospitals as of March 11.

Coronavirus: What West Should Learn From Asian Countries?

Source: Pixabay

Mass Quarantine and Social Distancing

Hong Kong became a “ghost town” in early February as the country went under voluntary lockdown. Social gatherings were called off with the initiative of the people; around 74-98 per cent of residents wore masks while leaving home.

China’s surprising action to lockdown Hubei province in late January and quarantining 60 million people was effective in slowing down the infection rates. However, according to experts, people are bound to follow quarantine rules diligently in authoritative regimes like China and challenging to implement in liberal democratic Western countries.

Italy, Spain have forced national lockdowns recently, but the infection rates have already surged massively. The difference in attitudes of the people play a significant role in this aspect, and the considerable variation between Western and Eastern cultures are prominent.

Tracing and Isolation

A centralized response team in Taiwan integrated the national health insurance, immigration and custom databases, to generate data which trace people’s travel history and clinical symptoms. Taiwan also used mobile phones to track people coming from high-risk areas and quarantining them.

In Singapore, 6000-plus people were contact-traced by detectives with the help of CCTV footage, tests, self-isolating orders and they have hefty penalties for violating these rules.

In Hong Kong, electronic bracelets have been used to trace the movement of people coming from abroad. South Korea had used government data and news reports to develop technologies to outline the areas visited by infected people before they were tested and provide information over smartphones to locate those areas that need to be avoided.

However, implemented these measures in the West is difficult due to their larger populations and liberal outlooks.

This is what the West needs to learn from Asia to counter COVID-19.

An ardent literature lover with my mind constantly travelling through far-off unexplored worlds. A lover of languages and cultures--the sweetest language in the world being my mother-tongue. Chasing the Northern Lights...taking one step closer. My pen is my sword. #BongAtHeart

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Hypocrisy of Federalism: Reply on Oxygen Related Deaths

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Death and Oxygen COVID II News Aur Chai

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.

MAHARASHTRA 

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.

HARYANA 

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.

MADHYA PRADESH 

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,”

GOA 

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.

 

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Why Are people Not Taking Covid Vaccine?

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COVID Vaccine II News Aur Chai

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.

Tweet by Prashant Bhushan

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.

 

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ZyCov-D Proposed As World’s First DNA COVID Vaccine

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ZyCOV-D DNA Vaccine II News Aur ChaiI

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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