India coronavirus dispatch: Covid-19 pandemic and policy solutions

Topics Coronavirus | health care | COVID-19

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is to begin a new survey to estimate the true prevalence of coronavirus infection

Ashish Jha of Harvard University on Covid-19 pandemic and policy solutions for India: While nations across the world struggle to contain the fallout of the human toll and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, public health experts such as Dr Ashish Jha have been at the forefront of research and public policy guidance to public and private institutions dealing with the crisis. Listen to this podcast to get insights into epidemiological basis of the pandemic and what policy solutions hold out hope for the future in India. 

Managing Covid-19 

ICMR plans new survey to estimate Covid-19 spread: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is to begin a new survey to estimate the true prevalence of coronavirus infection, senior officials in the Health Ministry said on Thursday. The organisation is yet to make public the details of its first (April) survey in 60 districts, which found that 0.73 per cent of the population may have been exposed to the virus. Read more here. 

Delhi govt dispensaries, polyclinics to now conduct rapid antigen tests for Covid diagnosis:

The Delhi government has now allowed polyclinics and dispensaries to conduct rapid antigen tests to enhance screening for Covid-19 infections in the national capital. According to an order issued by Director General of Health Services Nutan Mundeja Thursday evening, the Delhi government is adopting a ‘Test-Track-Treat’ strategy for early detection and containment of the pandemic. Read more here. 

While celebrating blue skies, locked-down India overlooked rising indoor air pollution:

The lockdown from March 25, 2020, which saw more meals being cooked at home, may have led to an almost 2 per cent -- or about 150 tonnes per day -- increase in total household PM 2.5 emissions in India, according to the preliminary findings of a yet-to-be published study by the World Resources Institute (WRI) India. Moreover, with an estimated 50 per cent of the population that is usually away during peak cooking hours being confined indoors, the number of people affected by HAP is likely to have increased significantly. Read more here. 

Seven things Bengaluru can do to get on top of its surging case load:

There were several systematic problems with surveillance, testing, contact tracing and tracking, which resulted in several missed cases and the virus’s continued spread. The city has fewer diagnostic technicians than are required, so people often wait for more than more than three hours to be tested. Read this piece to understand potential solutions to prevent mortality as Bengaluru’s novel coronavirus cases surge. 


There is an irrational preference for expensive Covid treatments over effective ones: In the absence of adequate information, the price of a commodity serves as an indicator of quality for the consumer. Information asymmetry is most acute in healthcare, with the added disadvantage that the providers of care have far greater access to, and understanding of the information. Read more here.

For a better Covid-19 vaccine, scientists and politicians need to work together: Governments at the Centre and in the states should always seek and respect the opinion of their scientific advisors. At the same time, responsible scientific advisors should stand up for what is right and try their best to convince the political leadership of the long-term consequences of decisions that can appear to have short-term benefits. The right balance is the key to the success of the scientific initiatives of any government. Read more here.

Understanding Covid-19

What a study of 17 million people tells us about Covid-19 deaths: A study published in the journal ‘Nature’ on Wednesday – an analysis of over 17 million people in England (40 per cent of the English population) – has quantified a range of clinical risk factors for deaths associated with Covid-19. The authors of the study claim that it is the largest cohort study conducted by any country to date. Read more here.

Rare neurological disorder, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, linked to Covid-19: As the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other corona viruses. Read more now.

Aerosol transmission can’t be ruled out, but droplets still biggest risk, says new WHO brief:

The primary mode of Covid-19 transmission continues to remain large droplets even as aerosol and fomite transmission cannot be ruled out, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday in its new scientific brief summarising everything known about the virus’ transmission. The WHO issued the brief after over 200 experts wrote an open letter to the agency to revise its airborne transmission guidelines. Read more here
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