India coronavirus dispatch: The human body's immune response to the virus

Passengers undergo thermal screening as they board a public bus following ease of restrictions, during the fifth phase of Covid-19 lockdown in Ajmer. Photo: PTI
Here is a round-up of articles from Indian news publications on how the country is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. From India’s first recession that is not driven by agri sectors, to missing-in-action Parliament, and why a study suggests blood cancer patients usually survive Covid — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Expert Speak

This will be India’s first recession driven by non-agri sectors: India’s economy is now set to lose 10 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), thanks to the after-effects of Covid-19. Eight states in India contribute to more than 50 per cent of its GDP. Within these eight states, almost 42 per cent of the state GDP is driven by areas that are now considered red zones. How is it going to play out, and what is India’s overall economic prospect looking? Read this interview with D K Joshi, chief economist of the rating agency CRISIL. Read more


India’s Parliament is missing in action: In ordinary times, Parliament would have its next session in the second half of July. In today’s extraordinary circumstances, Parliament should meet sooner, perhaps within a couple of weeks. India prides itself in being the world’s largest democracy as well as the information technology provider to the world. It is imperative that Parliament harnesses the country’s IT strengths to buttress our credentials as a performing democracy. Read more here

Long Reads

Covid-19, population, and pollution — a road map for the future: The impact of this pandemic is likely to be multidimensional, creating a health crisis in the first instance – with spillover effects including hunger crisis, deepening of poverty, recession, and disequilibrium in the supply chain. There are two other aspects that are important for the long run, and that this pandemic has brought to our attention: pollution and population (density). Read more here

India’s poor may have lost Rs 4 trillion in the coronavirus lockdown: To avoid a livelihood crisis of severe magnitude in India, programmes by central and state governments should try to rebuild workers’ lost incomes through assistance in the form of cash or kind as well as through public works programmes. There is scope for launching a massive public works programme across the country which will address the problem of stagnant demand as well as of supply-side constraints. Read more here

Managing Covid-19

From treatment to medical gear, patients paying more in Covid times: The central government and courts have stepped in to regulate some prices but not others. For example, the Supreme Court set a cap of Rs 4,500 on RT-PCR testing, the Delhi High Court mandated that antibody kits be sold to the Indian Council for Medical Research at Rs 400 and the government capped the prices of hand sanitisers and surgical masks. But several vital items were left out of price regulation; these include N95 masks, personal protective equipment (PPE), face shields, goggles, the charges for being admitted into intensive care and the overall treatment charges. Read more here

In Mumbai, Covid-19 patients are dying as they wait for ambulances and hospital beds: In public hospitals, coronavirus patients have been asked to share beds, sleep on the floor, or share wards with corpses that have been left on beds for hours because families refuse to claim them. People calling the corporation’s Covid-19 helpline are often told there are no beds available. The situation is no better with ambulances – the state’s 108 helpline runs barely 100 ambulances in the city, private ambulance services are expensive and insufficient, and patients are left high and dry when they need help the most. Read more here

Karnataka increases quarantine time to 3 weeks for Maharashtra returnees: The Karnataka government has tweaked quarantine requirements for people arriving from Maharashtra, raising the isolation time from a fortnight to three weeks, an official said on Wednesday. The 21-day quarantine regimen is for all asymptomatic people returning from Maharashtra, considering most of the Covid-19 cases reported in Karnataka are having domestic travel history to that state. Read more here

Factories open in Noida, but where are the workers? After the lockdown, the government has given permission to reopen factories and industries to boost India’s economy. But, where are the factory workers? Ironically, during the third phase of lockdown, several industries were allowed to open but at the same time, the government also started special Shramik trains that saw migrant workers leave en masse. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19

If otherwise fit, blood cancer patients ‘usually survive Covid’: People with blood cancer are expected to be at higher risk of Covid-19 infection due to a weakened immune system from the cancer and the treatment they receive. Clinical researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Barts Health NHS Trust have now studied the outcome of Covid-19 infection in patients with blood cancer. The study found that even if patients were actively having intensive treatment for blood cancer that weakened their immune system, they usually recovered from Covid-19 as long as they were otherwise fit and well. Read more here

The human body’s immune response to the novel coronavirus: Understanding the body’s response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus is important to comprehend the underlying mechanisms of vaccines and antiviral drugs. Coronaviruses have not popped up all of a sudden. We have been living with various human and animal coronaviruses for decades. Nevertheless, this novel coronavirus is wreaking havoc owing to its rapid rate of transmission. Further investigation will unravel the complete behavioural patterns of this virus, allowing researchers to develop a potential vaccine soon. Read more here

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