India Coronavirus Dispatch: Exposure to pathogens may have helped India

A man reacts as a medical worker collects a nasal sample for a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Srinagar
Immunity in India: New research unveiled by Indian scientists suggests low-income countries, including India, may have been able to stave off severe infections because a large number of people were likely exposed to pathogens that allowed for the development of stronger immunity. India has a sixth of the reported Covid-19 cases and also a sixth of the world population. The country, however, has 10 per cent of the deaths worldwide from coronavirus. The case fatality rate is lower than 2 per cent, which is among the most favourable in the world. One paper looked at data available for over 100 countries on 24 parameters such as sanitation, disease prevalence, population, and others. The scientists found high-income countries experienced a higher fatality rate. The other paper looked at the microbes that live inside a human body that has an infection. Read more here

Vulnerable groups: The age group of 50-59 years is the most affected by Covid-19 in India, both in terms of contracting the disease and fatalities, according to new research. This goes against the commonly held belief that people above the age of 80 are the most vulnerable. The research, carried out by the department of clinical research in Max hospital, Delhi, says that a total of over 2 million life-years have already been lost due to Covid-19. India many end up with nearly 4 million life-years lost due to this disease. Read more here

Coronavirus video game: To raise awareness around precautions to be taken to protect oneself against contracting Covid-19, a group of students at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras has built a browser-based video game. The game, intended for children, was inspired by the iconic Super Mario Nintendo game and can be played on any device. Players have to perform a series of tasks the right way to earn points. The students have built the game to work in 12 languages apart from English. They plan on adding more regional languages based on feedback from testing the prototype. Click here to play the game. ( www.letsplaytolearn.com). Read more here

Covid-negative certificate: As part of a self-imposed lockdown, entering villages in Davanagere district in Karnataka requires you to provide a Covid-negative medical certificate. To keep outsiders out, wooden barricades have been placed on roads leading to villages. Access conditional on a Covid-negative certificate is not common in India. The local gram panchayat wants to continue this until Covid-19 cases fall to zero.  Read more here 

 
Comment: India should aim to vaccinate 80 per cent of the population by the end of 2021.  India cannot afford not to do so, says Nitin Pai, the director of the Takshashila Institution, an independent centre for research and education in public policy. Herd immunity can happen either when enough people develop natural immunity or when they have been vaccinated. Epidemiological calculations indicate a herd immunity threshold of 67 per cent is sufficient. However, given that we are not sure at this time if even 67 per cent is enough, it is better to have a safety margin to ensure that the vaccination programme is successful, says Pai. Read more here



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