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The Coronavirus Outbreak

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Submitted by Mousumi Roy…

China has shown the path. Adopt the Chinese model. Take lessons from Italy. It has been in the habit of western countries, especially the US and UK to heckle at South-eastern countries and attribute all epidemics and infections to us. UK has a delayed response to COVID-19 unlike the Chinese Draconian lock-down Nor the UK has adopted the sophisticated technologies of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore in contact tracing, social distancing.

Coronavirus in itself is not new. It was discovered back in the 1960s. Biological experiments with virus genome to find cures and vaccines really took off in the last few decades when DNA analysis and gene splicing became easy. Unintended (or intended) consequences started off from there.

Now there appears to be a new scare. Herd immunity usually is affected by vaccination. Not in these type of severe infections. That’s a huge risk to wait for herd immunity to form and spread.

Immunologists around the world have declared they do not know the answer for this now. Most likely not.

Wake up UK and US. You are no more leaders in health care.

Taiwan has come out as a surprise to the westerners.

Though it is too early to challenge them, the UK and US leadership has come out like comedians in their corona-virus pandemic response. And their health care has not risen to the occasion immediately, despite all their “order”, managerial skills, innumerable immigrant employees drained off their countries of origin in order to contribute to the mixture of skills in the west.

R0 is a very important number regarding infectious diseases in epidemiology. In short, it’s the rate at which a disease spreads.

The method of infection is important also. For example, HIV/AIDS and Ebola require some sort of direct contact such as sexual or bodily fluids whereas the flu only needs “airborne droplets”…

They measure R0 and pathogenicity but not velocity, or how fast it makes you ill. Viruses do this by recycling you into new viruses. What they take from you to do this is a trace amount of vitamins and minerals and the problem begins when they use ones that are critical to the immune system. For example, Ebola can take ascorbate and selenium out of you in one day what HIV takes ten years to do. They’re both equally pathogenic, they just kill you at a different rate. The best we can do now is say “slow” vs/ fast virus. By the end of this century, we will have quantified this better. HIV is different, it makes a cell into a virus factory and just keeps going.

Biological weapons development has been banned through a UN resolution a generation ago. And yet, we already know, this band has been and is being violated by multiple nations. Many believe HIV eventually spread out not just by accident, but that it came to exist first of all from illegal experimentation on the biological weapon, much as the Ebola scare and many others that did not hit the headlines.

The number of new cases in China has dropped. Most of the patients who had the disease have been discharged. This would be the time for a logical, non-arrogant leader to get on the phone, talk to Xi and ask him to send some of the doctors who treated the 80,000 cases there and ask them to help us deal with what is coming. And while you’re about it, call the Koreans and get the guys who organized the testing there to come and show us how it’s organized. In China, 20 per cent of patients required hospitalization, 80 per cent did not. It’s not the flu. China built dozens of hospitals, they built a 1000 bed hospital in 10 days, by concentrating the industrial strength of a nation (and not just any nation, but China) into a single city. But in India, they don’t have the resources and manpower of China. Indian can’t build hospitals in a week like China. So they got to get ready with vacant hospitals in the outskirts of all district capitals.

The fatality rate is not terribly important; what is important is the rate of new infections (as driven by R0), which will quickly overwhelm diagnosis, testing, and treatment capacity, leading to a much higher loss of life for those who cannot get care… And nobody sensible is saying the world is ending now.

Srilanka, Pakistan and African nations all have documented a lesser number of cases. That means the community spread of Corona pandemic has not started yet in these countries. They are never going to do community-level testing and hence they will never know the actual infection rate.

Mr Boris Johnson, the PM of UK admitted in his press conference that the nation got to be ready to lose their loved ones. He further said they expect 500,000 deaths (1% mortality) due to COVID-19 in coming days. They have not locked down the UK yet. The reason is..the UK govt wants to increase herd immunity by allowing the public to get infected because they are buying time for the NHS to get ready. Prevention and anticipation are effective measures that govts throughout the world hv been ignoring. The National health services of the UK is understaffed and under-resourced. Private health care is costly and incipient in the UK. Their political leadership is worse than ever. The British including the British Indians chose the conservatives knowing they are into the process of underfunding the NHS. But they will fare well in Brexit as planned. The British wanted that.

India- Srilanka- Taiwan and other south-east Asian countries will do well when it comes to handling the epidemic (now pandemic) to the surprise of western countries. Because we have been handling invasions, war situations, Tsunamis, several epidemics (Indians have a bad track record of handling epidemics, though) in the last few decades with good samaritan practices.

Indian healthcare is definitely better in terms of handling emergencies, the federal health structure of Indian health care will make certain Indian states far better than the UK and the US handling this situation. The Indian health system has brisk private health care and very proactive government health care. Indian need not follow a dead slow system. They got to formulate their own guidelines for better care and also that suits their larger population. They have to involve private health care as feeders to the Govt institutes.

To fight epidemics you need universal state-funded health care. You cannot have part of the population to scared to be tested because of the cost of the test and too scared to be treated because of the cost of treatment. If sick people who are scared do not seek the treatment they will spread the virus and they may die.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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