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India Coronavirus Dispatch: Pune overtakes Delhi as cases continue to surge

Study suggests immune response to Covid may be transient, masks add to plastic waste, Covid not a concern for remote Delhi village--news on how the country is coping with the pandemic

Pune | Coronavirus Tests | Coronavirus

Shreegireesh Jalihal  |  New Delhi 

Photo: Shutterstock
A new finding by NCDC suggests that the immune response generated by the virus may be of ‘transient nature’

Manipur’s eye-opener: Manipur’s medical officials say that the Covid-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener as far as fault lines in public health care go. The state’s Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) has said that there has been a severe resource crunch. The northeastern state saw a surge in cases by June-end when special trains started to operate and an influx of returnees began. While the state administration put an SOP in place for dealing with the incoming crisis, patients and doctors have since alleged that the system wasn’t well-oiled. Severe deficiencies in infrastructure and manpower were quite evident when patients who tested positive spent hours in waiting rooms before being admitted. Soon, more concerns emerged. At a Covid care centre in Ukhrul, officials complained of no electricity supply. Further, patients are admitted in dormitory-style rooms with no compartments to segregate those with comorbidities. Read more here.

Transient immunity? A new finding by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) suggests that the immune response generated by the virus may be of ‘transient nature’. NCDC did not find antibodies in the blood of 97 out of 208 people who had tested positive during a sero-survey in July. The organisation further noted that immune response in Delhi may be short-lived as the city has a floating population from Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon. The report, however, adds that the correlation between sero-prevalence and natural immunity acquired after infection needs to be speculated keeping in mind ‘the meagre scientific evidence available for the immune response generated by this novel virus’. Read more here.


Plastic waste: The pandemic should be seen as an alarm bell about the seriousness of ecological threats. While masks have become an inseparable part of our daily lives, we must now shift focus to the kind of masks we’re wearing. While there are reports of improving air quality over lower emissions, the same cannot be said about waste production. The columnist says that we must make the conscious effort to reduce the use of single-use non-woven polypropylene masks as much as possible. According to reports published in medical journals, the use of cloth masks with proper decontamination in a community setting is recommended. These masks, however, are not to be used by frontline health workers since they don’t have the same filtration effectiveness as N95 masks. The general public can shift to using multi-layered cloth masks. The only added precaution is to ensure that the mask is washed with hot water and soap at the end of the day. Read more here.

Kavach kit: ICMR had approved 12 IgG test kits that could be used for seroprevalence surveys. One of them is the Kavach IgG ELISA kit. Going by anecdotal evidence, this is the most commonly used kit in surveys. Since sero-surveys are important for understanding the extent of the outbreak which then guides policymakers’ response, the kind of kit used for these surveys also plays a major role. A study recently compared the performance of three such kits. The researchers found the kit was 99.5% specific and only 75.7% sensitive. In terms of antibody sensitivity, the kit has ranked last among all those studied. Further, the team’s findings show that the kit is less sensitive than claimed by the organisations that developed it. Read more here.

In Numbers

Pune, ground-zero: overtook Delhi to become the city with largest number of infections on Monday. The Maharashtrian city is now home to over 175,000 people who have been infected by the virus at some point. The city has been reporting the highest number of daily cases for the past two weeks. The recent sero-survey also showed that over 50 per cent of the city’s population may have already been infected. This level of prevalence is the highest detected in any city where sero-surveys have been performed. Further, the city has been reporting the highest number of active cases for the past few weeks. This indicates that the infections are fairly recent. This further implies that the pandemic in is still on the rise. Read more here.

Photo Post

Where Covid is not a concern: In Delhi’s Chak Shila — a remote village accessible only by a boat — the pandemic is not a concern. The village is home to 80 people for whom basic amenities like electricity and water supply are the main issues. None of the villagers wear face masks or use hand sanitisers considering how inaccessible the place is. Most villagers work on fields while some women doubled up as domestic helps prior to the lockdowns. Children would travel for over two hours by boat and on land to reach Mayur Vihar. Most of them are now bereft of schooling because they don’t have access to the internet. While almost everybody has Voter and Aadhaar cards, access to facilities has still been very difficult. Read more here.

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First Published: Tue, September 01 2020. 14:56 IST