India Coronavirus Dispatch: Why you should shun so-called immunity boosters

Topics Immunity | West Bengal | Coronavirus

A health worker taking a swab test of a woman during the lockdown, in Kolkata on Saturday
Managing Covid-19
Covid-19 cases in West Bengal cross 65,000: West Bengal observed a near total lockdown on Wednesday even as it recorded 2,294 new Covid-19 cases, taking its total case tally past the 65,000 mark to 65,268. The active cases in the State now stand at 19,652. The death toll from the pandemic rose to 1,490, with 41 more deaths reported on Wednesday. Kolkata recorded 17 of the 41 deaths, followed by nine in North 24 Parganas, five in South 24 Parganas and four in Howrah. Read more here

What’s open, and what’s not in the month of August: The government on Wednesday (July 29) issued guidelines for phase 3 of Unlock, allowing gymnasiums and yoga centres to function, and revoking the night curfew order. Here is all that you need to know about what happens (or does not) between August 1 and August 31. Read more here

Few sanitation workers getting training, info on health checkups: India has now reported more than 1.5 million Covid-19 cases, making it the country with the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Brazil. But even as the contagion surges across the country, sanitation workers continue to be inadequately protected, noted a report based on a telephonic survey of 214 sanitation workers in five states and two metros by two independent researchers. Read more here

Over half of people in Mumbai’s slums probably infected with coronavirus: More than half of the people living in Mumbai‘s sprawling slums are probably infected with the novel coronavirus, which suggests the metropolis could be heading toward herd immunity, a government official and a health expert said on Wednesday, citing a recent survey. Read more here

Reputation of scientists will be further muddied by our role in this pandemic: What marks the current pandemic out as being unlike any other public health emergency that precedes it is its global stage, with the cacophony of debates and disputes between scientists played out in full public view on digital platforms. It comes as no surprise that waves of panic and anger sweep the world, as populations which were led to believe that scientific commandments were written in stone and that government leaders were responding accordingly. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19
Immunity boosters are a myth — why you shouldn’t believe claims that promise to fight Covid: Ayurvedic concoctions, fruit juices, vitamin pills, zinc tablets, hand sanitisers, face masks — despite the lockdown, the market has been flooded with an array of products that claim to boost one’s immunity. Advertisers’ messages seem to indicate that the body’s natural defences can be strengthened or enhanced by the consumption of certain foods or the use of specific products. But can these products really protect you from Covid-19? Or, can functional food or nutraceuticals (dietary supplements) boost your immunity? Read more here

Here is what we know of Covid-19 vaccine pricing at the moment: The Covid-19 vaccine candidates by University of Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc-BioNTech and Chinese firm Sinovac are all undergoing Phase-III trials at present. While Pfizer, Moderna and Merck & Co have said they plan to sell their vaccines at a profit, some drug makers, including Johnson & Johnson have announced plans to price their vaccines on a not-for-profit basis. Johnson and Johnson has said it would make the Covid-19 vaccine available at $10 for “emergency pandemic use”. Read more here.

What you need to know before trying to make sense of sero-survey results: Sero-prevalence surveys, or sero-surveys in short, to assess the prevalence of antibodies against Covid-19 in various populations are catching up. After Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai also recently released the early findings of their respective surveys, and surveys in other cities are underway. Officials are also planning to repeat surveys on a monthly basis to better understand changes in the populations’ antibody statuses. Read more here

Smokers likely to be more vulnerable to Covid-19: The Health Ministry has released an advisory titled ‘Covid-19 Pandemic and Tobacco Use in India’, confirming that smokers are more likely to develop severe symptoms or die from Covid-19, as it primarily attacks the lungs. They are also more vulnerable to get infected because the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth. Read more here

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