Dr Vishal Rao, Dean, HCG Cancer Centre, and member of expert committee, Covid Task Force, Government of Karnataka, speaks of the
10 things to keep safe during the pandemic and what are the ways one can help and not stress the already heaving healthcare system.
The second wave of the pandemic has left India gasping for breath. As cases rise, deaths increase, with anguished please for oxygen and ICU beds, what can one do sitting at home to be responsible and committed to help in this hour or crisis? Dr Vishal Rao, Dean, HCG Cancer Centre, and member of expert committee, Covid Task Force, Government of Karnataka, also an oncologist,who himself has followed stringent protocol and is on the frontlines shares his learning. He speaks of the 10 things to keep safe during the pandemic and what are the ways one can help and not stress the already heaving healthcare system. He also shares research that highlights 10 scientific reasons to support airborne transmission as India reaches 2.4 crore Covid cases.
10 things you need to do to prevent SARS-CoV-2:
Vaccinate: You either expose yourself to vaccine or to infection. You would prefer vaccine, naturally, and double mask up. Remember that your mask is like the three-shot protection, and currently the best you have.
You need to wear a mask even after vaccination. Vaccine for Covid only protects, it does not prevent.
Ventilation of your indoor areas is the key to prevent aerosol stagnation. Covid spreads through aerosol —and breath. A small percentage also spreads though fomites which are objects or materials which are likely to carry the infection like clothes, utensils or furniture.
The relative risk of fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is considered low compared with direct contact, droplet transmission, or airborne transmission.Case reports indicate that SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted between people by touching surfaces an ill person has recently coughed or sneezed on, and then directly touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. That is why hand hygiene is a barrier to fomite transmission and has been associated with lower risk of infection
Current there is no proven preventive treatment for Covid. Even current vaccine only provide protection and not prevention.One needs to understand that this virus is new to the immune system and until our body is exposed to a vaccine or an infection, we cannot get immunity. Getting vaccinated is the only way forward.
Remember this is a social economic virus, the more your run social and economic activities, the more you spread the virus.
The virus does not have hands and legs, you are moving the virus as a carrier. You cannot lower your guard at anytime. Run your office or homes as though you are running a hospital or a clinic — with the same amount of sanitisation and a high level of precaution whichany doctor takes when he sees a patient not knowing if he positive for Covid or not.
Herd immunity is still far away, and new strains are emerging, and they seem to override previous immunity gained. If you have had infection once, does it mean you are immune? No. Stay safe.
O2 concentrators help when saturation is below 94 per cent, and upto 90 per cent beyond that patient needs monitoring at a hospital. The advice would be to stay home, and don’t rush and buy them, as that will lead to hoarding, and create problems for those who need it. Also preempting and reserving ICU or hospital beds create an untenable situation for those who are in desperate need of medical care.
Is having the vaccine lowering immunity? This is a myth. Not at all. Like I said earlier, the vaccine exposes you to a very small fragment of virus or to a dead virus. Thus, at the least, it enhances your immune system to a new virus your body didn’t know before.
Blood clots as a result of Covid-19 is something one should be careful about. High ACE2 expression in the endothelium of blood vessels facilitates the high-affinity binding of SARS-CoV-2 using spike protein, causing infection and internal injury inside the wall of blood vessels. This viral associated injury may directly/indirectly initiate activation of clotting cascades forming internal blood clots. That is why mild prophylactics are advised for those with mild to moderate Covid 19.
Ten scientific reasons to supports Airborne Transmission:
Airborne Transmission — SARS-CoV-2 stayed infectious in the air for up to three hours with a half-life of 1·1 hours
“Ten scientific reasons in support” of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (Greenhagh et al The Lancet)
1. Superspreading events account for substantial SARS-CoV-2 transmission consistent with airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2 that cannot be adequately explained by droplets or fomites. The high incidence of such events strongly suggests the dominance of aerosol transmission.
2. Long-range transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between people in adjacent rooms but never in each other’s presence has been documented in quarantine hotels.
3. Asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from people who are not coughing or sneezing is likely to account for at least a third, and perhaps up to 59 per cent, of all transmission globally.
4. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is higher indoors than outdoors and is substantially reduced by indoor ventilation.
5. Nosocomial infections have been documented in health-care organisations, where there have been strict contact-and-droplet precautions and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to protect against droplet but not aerosol exposure.
6. Viable SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in the air. In laboratory experiments, SARS-CoV-2 stayed infectious in the air for up to 3 h with a half-life of 1·1 hours.
7. SARS-CoV-2 has been identified in air filters and building ducts in hospitals with COVID-19 patients; such locations could be reached only by aerosols
8. Studies involving infected caged animals that were connected to separately caged uninfected animals via an air duct have shown transmission of SARS-CoV-2 that can be adequately explained only by aerosols.
9. No study to our knowledge has provided strong or consistent evidence to refute the hypothesis of airborne SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
10. There is limited evidence to support other dominant routes of transmission—ie, respiratory droplet or fomites.