[Vol 16] Medi-Scene: Your Weekly Health News Update

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MediScene Vol 16

1. Coronavirus update: Country sets 4th record with 2900 cases on Monday

On Monday, 4th May, India saw a new rise in number cases with 2900 being added in a day. The total number of cases crossed 45,000. In a huge spike in infections, Tamil Nadu became the second state after Maharashtra to report more than 500 cases in a day. Apart from Tamil Nadu, other states that recorded the highest one-day rise in cases on Monday were Gujarat with 376, Rajasthan with 175, Haryana with 75 and West Bengal with 61 cases. Following the highest single-day death toll in Ahmedabad, the state authorities said, ““We are also going to carry out an autopsy of the Covid-19 patients after clearance from B J Medical College’s ethics committee. As in countries like Italy, this is to find out the cause of disseminated intravascular coagulation, also identified as thrombosis, in Covid-19 patients.” In Bihar and Jharkhand, coronavirus cases have seen a dip. 11 fresh Covid-19 positive cases were reported in Bihar on Monday, taking the total number to 528 in the state. This is the lowest one-day count recorded in two weeks. Jharkhand did not report a single new Covid-19 case for the second consecutive day on Monday, but some say that this could be due to the number of tests being conducted fell significantly. 

2. Recovery to death ratio improves to 90:10 in India

Since the global pandemic has struck India, the recovery-to-death ratio seems to have gotten better. On April 17th, studying the number of cases, the ratio stood at 80:20 but as on May 5th, the ratio is at 90:10. This indicated better clinical management of patients who were affected with the virulent infection while 1,074 patients were cured in the last 24 hours, the highest number on a single day according to reports issued by the health ministry. On Monday, the total number of confirmed cases were 42,863 out of which 29,685 were active and 11,761 had been cured. At present, the total recovery rate is 27.52%, as compared to 13.06% on April 17. Health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said, “Each and every death is a concern. Therefore, it is important that we develop a deeper understanding of Covid-19 treatment and focus on how we can improve this outcome ratio. In earlier pandemics, it has been observed that while norms are relaxed when social mobility is allowed, if restrictions are not followed properly, then suddenly the transmission rate may go up. They must also ensure effective case clinical management while focusing on infection prevention and control. It is important that as lockdown eases, we should follow protocol and guidelines related to physical distancing, follow preventive measures like hand hygiene and environmental hygiene and deal with Covid-19 by being careful, aware and alert.” 

3. Ayurveda gets approval for clinical trials on COVID-19 patients: Kerala

A drug developed by Pankajakasthuri Herbal Research Foundation which has been effectively used for viral fevers, acute viral bronchitis and other respiratory infections will now be tested as a probable medicine for Covid-19 in medical colleges in India. Zingivir-H tablet, is the ayurvedic drug that is used for treating respiratory infections, that has gotten the approval from the clinical trial registry of India (CTRI) for clinical trials on patients who are tested positive for novel coronavirus. Dr J Hareendran Nair, Padma Shri awardee and formulator of the drug said, “Our scientific validations have shown that this drug has strong anti-viral properties and is effective against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza virus. The RSV is an RNA virus and we expect that it will be effective against Covid-19, which is also an RNA virus. Some of them have already started trials and the first results are expected to be available by the second week of May.”

4. Mental health study says that people are more worried about post-covid life

Mental health issues have been on a rise since the global pandemic has gripped the World. According to a mental health study done by the department of psychology, Rajagiri College Of Social Sciences, most people are going through mild stress caused by the uncertainty of the world after lockdown is lifted. The survey consisted of 100 questions and was sent out via Whatsapp and in Kochi between april 15-20, just after the Centre extended the lockdown period till May 3. The study found that those who were most stressed were in the age-group of 35-45 years. Only 16% among the elderly were under major stress. As for genders, men had more anxiety and depression and were about the financial situation and the job crisis due to the weakened economy. Jessy Fenn, principal investigator of the project in an interview said, “We did it as part of our research work and also because we have a teleconsultation helpline (9895343515) to reach out to people under stress and any mental health problem. The study looked at mental health (stress, anxiety, depression), coping, how relationships are faring and perceptions of the future.” He along with Sanju George, Noble Chacko, Fr Varghese K V and Tony Thomas were the core team members of the analysis. Stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures of life and some amount of stress is desirable and beneficial. But when it becomes more than what a person can handle, then it affects the functioning of the individual and is called distress. Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdown has created stress from both external and internal causes: external — loss of job maybe, restrictions, reduced social contact, reduced comforts of life; and internal — fear of the disease, restlessness, etc. Jessy Fenn further added, “We did the survey when our death numbers were the lowest and hence anxiety regarding Covid came in the 6th place. Fear of dying, and fear of Covid was not so high. Loneliness, and loss of socializing which is one of the main worries in western countries was not as severe in India where people lived with families and were close to others. Still, it was a problem for 26% of the people, and most were men.”

5. Smart contact lens to diagnose diabetes developed by researchers

A team of researchers in South Korea from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) have developed a wireless-powered contact lens that can identify and treat diabetes. It can do that by controlling delivery of drugs  with electrical signals. This can be further useful to treat diabetic retinopathy, a common visual health condition associated with the disease just by wearing them. According to the study published in the journal Science Advances, the contact lenses are constructed of biocompatible polymers and integrate biosensors and drug delivery and data communication systems. The lead researcher Sei Kwang Han from POSTECH in an interview said, “Despite the full-fledged research and development of wearable devices from global companies, the commercialisation of wireless-powered medical devices for diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and retinopathy is insufficient. We expect that this research will greatly contribute to the advancement of related industries by being the first in developing wireless-powered smart contact lenses equipped with drug delivery systems for diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, and treatment of retinopathy.” The team of researchers hope that this evolution of self-controlled therapeutic smart contact lenses with real-time biometric analysis will be quickly applied to wearable healthcare industries.

6. Can 10 days quarantine be enough instead of 14?

Altered guidelines published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US on less stern monitoring and isolation of Covid-19 patients has caught Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) attention. ICMR has sought permission from the Union government to amend the Indian guidelines in tune with the new CDC guidelines. According to CDC’s new formulated  guidelines asymptomatic patients can end their isolation in 10 days and that too without a further RT-PCR test. For Covid suspects, like travellers from infected regions, the observation period needs to be 14 days.Kerala’s health department suggests a 28-day home isolation for suspects even if there are no symptoms. A senior health department official in an interview said, “In a video conference that state officials had with Union health ministry officials on Sunday, it came up for discussion. The ICMR officials said they are awaiting the Centre’s nod for it. If it is approved, the time for hospitalisation could be considerably reduced and unnecessary repetition of tests can be avoided.” Dr Arun N M, an internal medicine expert said, “Studies have pointed out that the viral burden on a patient declines after the onset of illness. It shows that if the patient has no symptoms then there is a lesser chance of infecting others. After the recovery from clinical illness many patients will no longer have detectable viral RNA.” Healthcare experts suggest that these CDC guidelines should be adopted in the country post lockdown.

Reference links:

  1. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/2900-covid-19-cases-on-monday-4th-record-set-in-4-days/75544829
  2. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/indias-recovery-to-death-ratio-for-covid-19-improves-to-9010/75544868
  3. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/kerala-ayurveda-drug-gets-nod-for-clinical-trials-on-covid-19-patients/75528158
  4. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/people-more-worried-about-life-after-covid-mental-health-study/75513205
  5. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/researchers-develop-smart-contact-lens-to-diagnose-treat-diabetes/75473092
  6. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/10-day-quarantine-enough-instead-of-14-or-28-days/75550017

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