India coronavirus dispatch: Why age makes fighting Covid-19 more difficult

Medics collect a swab sample of an air passenger from Chicago for COVID-19 test who landed in Hyderabad and arrived at his native city by bus, during the ongoing Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, in Vijayawada. Photo: PTI
Here is a round-up of important Covid-19 articles from across Indian publications. From a surge in Covid-19 numbers, to dimensions of vulnerability and complexities regarding migrant workers, and low level of public spending on health — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Managing Covid-19

India coronavirus numbers explained — surge is around the corner: Till now, the number of new cases being reported every day more or less followed a pattern that had been set prior to the easing of the lockdown. In fact, the doubling time of cases had been consistently improving all this while, a good indicator of the slowdown in the spread. But what might lie ahead?

At 250 tests per day on average, Telangana’s Covid-19 testing figures dismal: Telangana’s testing has been dismal when compared with neighbours. To put that in perspective, neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, which has ramped up testing in the recent past, had tested 229,118 samples as of Sunday morning, while other neighbouring states like Karnataka and Maharashtra have tested 1,40,024 and 2,61,783 samples, respectively.

Hasty lockdown, crawling relief — from duty to charity: While there are several dimensions of vulnerability and complexities regarding migrant workers that need to be brought out, there are two specific concerns pertaining to the inadequate administrative response. The first is the unreliability and unreachability of centralised helplines and other such systems that the administration relies on to impart relief. The second is the inadequate and unreliable rations coupled with lack of sufficient cash in hand which has spawned new kinds of insecurities.

‘Trains are only for show’ — Stopped from walking home, hundreds are stranded at the Delhi-UP border: Since the end of March, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers and their families have departed for their home villages, often on foot. Some of their destinations have been more than 1,000 km away. More than 120 people have died in accidents en route. The union government asked states to help workers get home in buses and the Shramik Express trains. how booking trains has not been easy, which is why so many have started walking or cycling home.


Where is health in the stimulus package? Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the critical importance of the public sector in health provisioning. However, stuck at around 1.15 per cent of GDP for well over a decade, the low level of public spending on health is both a cause of and an exacerbating factor accounting for the poor quality, limited reach and insufficient public provisioning of health care.

From plate to plough — a 1991 moment for agriculture: The reforms announced last week could be a harbinger of major change in agri-marketing, a 1991 moment of economic reforms for agriculture. But what one must watch out for is the fine print of the legislation.

Long Reads

The systemic barriers to health surveillance in low-, middle-income countries (LMICs): It is time we all acknowledged the systemic barriers to conducting research in LMICs. By uniting as one worldwide scientific community we can take appropriate steps to bring the scholarly poor out of literary poverty and make global health research truly global.

How coronavirus has shattered the world order, sowed anger and mistrust: Collapsing governments, famine, crushed economies and emboldened extremists are all among the darkest post-pandemic scenarios. Yet, even less dramatic outlooks have a gloomy tinge, with political alliances crumbling and economies unlikely to rebound fast enough to blunt the impact of hundreds of millions of lost jobs.

Understanding Covid-19

Why does age make it more difficult to fight Covid-19? Data across countries have shown that age and underlying health conditions make people more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. A new study has now suggested a possible genetic explanation for this. A group of molecules that should be fighting the virus are diminished with age and chronic health problems, researchers report in the journal Aging and Disease.

How human challenge works: At a time when the whole world is focused on protecting itself from the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, more than 20,000 people from 102 countries have enrolled on a US website to voluntarily infect themselves with the virus. It is the “human challenge” in the quest for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease Covid-19 — the objective is to go on to test whether a given vaccine works on any of these infected persons.


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