Truth examine: Myths and misinformation about India’s Covid outbreak

2021-05-04 09:59:55

However misinformation has unfold in India — and generally been accepted as fact. This is our truth examine of some frequent myths and misconceptions round India’s second wave.

Medical doctors in India have anecdotally reported seeing extra younger folks presenting with Covid-19 signs.

Authorities messaging has supported this concept. On April 15, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal launched a video, urging younger folks particularly to take care. “On this wave of coronavirus, the youth are getting contaminated,” he wrote in a tweet. “I enchantment to all of the youth to handle themselves.”

All that has led to a widespread perception the second wave is disproportionately affecting younger folks.

Truth examine: Authorities statistics present younger individuals are not being any worse hit in the course of the second wave than they have been within the first.

In the course of the first wave, about 31% of sufferers have been aged under 30, mentioned V Okay Paul, the chairman of India’s Covid process pressure, at a press convention on April 19. In the course of the second wave, that determine has solely elevated marginally to 32%.

Round 21% of sufferers have been between 30 and 45 in the course of the first wave — that proportion hasn’t modified in the course of the second wave, in response to authorities statistics.

It is a related state of affairs in relation to deaths. Final yr, 20% of deaths have been folks aged 50 or youthful. This time, it is 19%.

“There isn’t any overarching extra threat of younger folks changing into Covid optimistic,” Paul mentioned. “We do not see a shift within the age prevalence of Covid-19 illness total within the nation.”

Dr. Chandrasekhar Singha, a senior lead advisor in pediatric essential care at Madhukar Rainbow Youngsters’s Hospital in New Delhi, mentioned he’s seeing extra youngsters contaminated in the course of the second wave than the primary. However, he mentioned, it was potential that the second wave had the identical proportion of kid Covid sufferers — the distinction this time could possibly be that the general totals are far higher.

He urged mother and father to not panic if their youngsters check optimistic — so long as they don’t seem to be chubby and haven’t any underlying respiratory drawback, most youngsters do not want any oxygen remedy or hospital admission, he mentioned.

Some context: India has a comparatively younger inhabitants in contrast with different international locations, with a median age of 28 in comparison with 38 within the US and 40 within the UK, in response to CIA World Factbook. The expertise in different international locations is that youthful individuals are extra cellular and are due to this fact usually tend to unfold the virus.

Some variants present in India, together with the UK pressure or B.1.1.7, are additionally extra transmissible, which means they’re simpler to move on. The UK variant, first recognized in September 2020, is now extra dominant than the Indian variant in Delhi and north India.

Are totally vaccinated healthcare employees being contaminated?

No vaccine on this planet will stop infections in each particular person, however native media has reported that some medical doctors working in hospitals have examined optimistic after being totally vaccinated.

That has raised public concern that India’s vaccines won’t be as efficient in opposition to the brand new variant that was recognized in late March, because the second wave accelerated.

Truth examine: Once more, the statistics do not bear that out.

Of the 1.7 million folks totally vaccinated with India’s homegrown Covaxin vaccine, 695 have examined optimistic for Covid, mentioned the government-run Indian Council of Medical Analysis (ICMR) in April. That equates to 0.04%.

Of the 15 million individuals who acquired each doses of Covishield — the Indian manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine — 5,014 folks have examined optimistic, or 0.03%.

Till Saturday, India had solely rolled out its vaccine to frontline employees and probably the most susceptible.

“Those that have been examined optimistic after receiving the doses have been principally frontline employees and healthcare employees. This class was the primary to be vaccinated, and they’re susceptible to extra occupational publicity,” Dr Balram Bhargava, secretary of division of well being analysis and director-general of ICMR, advised reporters in April, in response to native media stories.

Are new variants behind the second wave?

On March 24, the Indian Ministry of Well being revealed in a information launch that “VOCs (variants of concern) and a brand new double mutant variant have been present in India.”

Fears rapidly grew that the brand new variant, referred to as B.1.617, may be why the second wave has hit the nation a lot tougher and sooner than the primary. One of many greatest issues was whether or not the variant may have the ability to bypass the vaccines being rolled out nationwide.

Truth examine: Scientists are nonetheless researching the brand new variant, and there may be not sufficient data to find out whether or not it’s driving the surge in circumstances.

For that, the nation would wish a lot higher genomic surveillance. Consultants consider a rustic must conduct genetic sequencing for 5-10% of all Covid check samples to evaluate how a lot variant exercise is going down. India has sequenced lower than 1% of its circumstances, in response to Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown College Faculty of Public Well being.

Some Indian epidemiologists have instructed there’s a correlation between the rise in variants and the rise in circumstances. However it’s additionally essential to notice that different variants are at play — for example, the UK variant.

The time period “double mutant” refers back to the variant having two spike protein mutations. One of many mutations, referred to as L452R, has additionally been present in different variants that confer some degree of immune resistance. The second mutation, referred to as E484Q, could also be just like one other mutation discovered within the South Africa variant.

Nonetheless, merely having these mutations doesn’t essentially imply it’s both extra transmissible or extra deadly — we simply haven’t got that data but.

Can conventional treatments defend you from an infection?

For the reason that pandemic started, a lot of supposed remedies and preventative measures have surfaced in India, with some promoted by officers and celebrities — regardless of little proof of their effectiveness.

In March final yr, a Hindu group hosted a cow urine ingesting celebration in Delhi, reportedly attended by 200 folks. That month, a pacesetter within the nation’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Celebration (BJP) in Assam state advised the state meeting that cow urine and dung “could possibly be used to deal with coronavirus.”

One influential yoga guru launched a natural concoction this February, claiming it cured Covid and was licensed by the World Well being Group (WHO).

Extra not too long ago on Might 1, the BJP’s nationwide common secretary tweeted pictures of cops inhaling steam in Mangalore, within the southwest state of Karnataka. The apply was a “useful” preventative measure that “helped officers really feel relaxed,” one police inspector advised CNN.

Truth examine: There was little proof that native treatments can stop or deal with Covid, and medical our bodies have refuted a number of of those practices.

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In response to the guru’s natural concoction, the WHO tweeted that it has “not reviewed or licensed the effectiveness of any conventional drugs for the remedy Covid-19.”
The WHO has beforehand mentioned “there is no such thing as a identified treatment for Covid-19 and there is not sufficient proof to point out steam inhalation helps,” including that it could trigger “critical burns if not performed appropriately.”
“As efforts are underneath strategy to discover remedy for Covid-19, warning should be taken in opposition to misinformation, particularly on social media, in regards to the effectiveness of sure treatments,” the WHO mentioned in an announcement final yr. Using untested merchandise to deal with Covid might “put folks in peril, giving a false sense of safety and distracting them from hand washing and bodily distancing that are cardinal in Covid-19 prevention,” it added.

The Indian Medical Affiliation (IMA), a nationwide group of medical doctors, has additionally criticized high-profile figures for selling unproven remedies, saying it’s unethical and undermines the necessity for essential measures like vaccinations.

May a greater vaccine rollout have prevented the coronavirus outbreak?

India’s vaccination program has been riddled with issues from the outset, with a sluggish launch and now mass shortages throughout quite a few states as demand soars.

To this point, simply over 2% of India’s 1.3 billion folks have been totally immunized with certainly one of two vaccines — considerably decrease than the US, the place 30% of the inhabitants are totally immunized.

The gradual rollout has attracted criticism, with some arguing it could have contributed to the second wave.

Truth examine: Whereas vaccines supply people a point of safety, India seemingly would have seen an enormous improve in circumstances anyway because of the phased nature of its vaccination program, mentioned Michael Head, a senior analysis fellow in international well being on the College of Southampton’s Medical Informatics Analysis Unit.

Like most different international locations, India vaccinated its most susceptible residents first, together with the aged and frontline well being care employees. However younger, match individuals who can journey look like the largest spreaders of Covid, he mentioned — “and they’d in all probability be the bottom precedence by way of vaccination.”

People line up to receive Covid-19 vaccines at a mass vaccination center on April 29 in Mumbai, India.

“So I believe you actually need to see 50-60% of the inhabitants vaccinated earlier than you possibly can actually begin to demonstrably present the impacts on transmission,” he added. “Since you’re solely then attending to the populations who transmitted probably the most, which is the younger folks, even when they are not so severely affected.”

Research from different components of the world have additionally proven the largest spreaders of Covid are youthful adults.

“I believe India would have needed to be lots additional with its rollout for these outbreaks to have been averted, assuming all different populations stay the identical,” Head mentioned.

Some context: That is to not say vaccination would not play an essential position — India is now racing to catch as much as its preliminary vaccination targets, with new measures permitting for the import of international vaccines. States are urging the central authorities to supply extra doses, with some specialists warning mass vaccination is essential to restrain the second wave.

Thus far, the federal government has bought at the very least 205.5 million doses, in response to information from the Duke International Well being Innovation Heart — inserting India within the high 10 Covid-19 vaccine patrons on this planet.

May fumes from crematoriums trigger air pollution?

New Delhi alone is cremating greater than 600 Covid victims a day, with funeral pyres burning nonstop by way of the evening. That has triggered some to wonder if the fumes are contributing to India’s air air pollution.

Family members embrace each other at a cremation ground in New Delhi, India, on April 26.

Truth examine: A number of areas in New Delhi have reported unhealthy ranges of air air pollution in the course of the second wave, and it is believable that the cremations are affecting air high quality.

Earlier research have proven that open-air, wood-based cremations launch small quantities of carbon monoxide and different pollution.

The quantities being launched by the cremations are “not vital sufficient to lift an alarm bell,” mentioned Vimlendu Jha, an environmental and social activist based mostly in Delhi. He added that “we’re used to excessive ranges of (air air pollution),” and although the present air high quality is poor, it is common by “Indian requirements.”

India is facing a double health threat this winter: pollution and the pandemic

Some context: Air air pollution has all the time been an enormous drawback in India. Main components embody smog from burning crop fields, vehicular emissions, energy vegetation, and air pollution from development websites.

However issues in regards to the well being dangers have risen in the course of the pandemic, with specialists warning that air pollution might put folks at greater threat of extreme Covid an infection and improve the pressure on public well being.
A examine final yr by Harvard College examined greater than 3,000 counties throughout the US, and located that greater ranges of air air pollution have been linked to greater dying charges from Covid-19.

“Most of the pre-existing circumstances that improve the chance of dying in these with Covid-19 are the identical ailments which might be affected by long-term publicity to air air pollution,” mentioned the examine.

CNN’s Esha Mitra contributed reporting from New Delhi.

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