The Quint’s Webinar brought together Dr Shahid Jameel, a well known virologist and CEO, DBT, India Alliance and Dr Arvind Kumar, Chest and Lung Surgeon with Gangaram Hospital, and founder of Lung Care Foundation, to answer your queries about the coronavirus outbreak in India, the lockdown, the treatments, vaccine developments and future of the pandemic. The Webinar was hosted by The Quint and QuintFit’s Health editor Vaishali Sood.
Do listen in to this engaging discussion on the evolving outcomes of the coronavirus and it's impact on India. We will continue to bring you informed webinars and discussions and we will continue to base our discussions on real knowledge and facts.
It's 4 days to the end of the 21 day lockdown that was imposed across India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24th. But has our understanding about the coronavirus evolved? Are testing enough? And are our health systems prepared to deal with the future outcomes?
Dr Shahid Jameel, virologist and CEO of DBT India Alliance, explained that testing, large scale testing was the only way to make informed, data driven, judicious decisions. He explained how RT-PCR tests differed from the quick antibody tests that are now being deployed in cluster areas to understand how widespread the virus is.
Was the lockdown successful in breaking the chain? Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman of Chest and Lung Surgery at Sir Gangaram Hospitals and founder of Lung Care Foundation said it was essential to give hospitals time to prepare for the potential surge and to 'flatten the curve.' For e.g., he says Gangaram hospital had PPEs prior to the lockdown, now they have 500 kits.
Who needs the mask? And are they helpful? Face coverings differ from surgical and N95 masks. But face coverings are about social responsibility, agreed both experts. In the absence of large scale testing, we have to presume we may be infected and we should wear this triple-layered coverings so our saliva and droplets don't infect others.
Is herd immunity going to save us from the virus? Dr Jameel explained that it was too early for us to be talking about herd immunity at this juncture. For something like that to work, 70 percent of the population needs to be infected with the virus. We are no where close right now. Eventually that may well be what will stop the virus, but are we willing to let some people die in the process for 'greater good'?
Yes, elderly people with co-morbidities are most at risk. But so you younger people living with diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, COPD, respiratory illnesses and host of other chronic conditions, says Dr Arvind Kumar. Social distancing and hand washing remain your biggest protection from the virus.