LIVING WITH CORONA IN INDIA
Can we agree that our situation is different?
Let us all first agree that India and Indians seem to have very low numbers as compared to the rest of the world.
Let us also agree that as entrepreneurs, we need to get back into the thick of it and sitting at home, hiding and waiting for the pandemic to pass us by is not going to help us, or the government, or the society, or the world.
There are various theories about this, and while I cannot get into each one individually, I can tackle some of them here.
So, why are Indian numbers so low?
For starters, let us understand that it is not possible to hide deaths or mis-classify them beyond a point. Our population is so large and our record-keeping so fairly robust that it should become impossible to lie about this by now.
In places like Dharavi, there are 3.5 lakh people per square km, one of the densest populated places in the world, and with the kind of hygiene standards that should have made Covid19 a much much larger problem than it seems to be. Why, I at that population density and lack of sanitation, we should have seen the body count piling up. And while it is growing in Mumbai, it is certainly not in line with what it should have been given the conditions.
Is it some sort of immunity Indians have built because of our public hygiene habits (which are horrid, as compared to our personal ones, which seem better than many)?
Or are we just behind the curve and will catch up in the next few months?
Or is there some genetic advantage we have? This is unlikely too since there are no "pure" Indians and so no one specific genetic strain we all share that others in Europe or Africa or China don't.
It seems the strain of the virus in India is not unique to us. So, it isn't that the virus is weaker here.
It's got to be something else.
Is it our resistance to malaria, as speculated by some, given that the malarial regions of the world seem to be less impacted by the virus?
Apparently, the BCG protocol has nothing to do with the growth and infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Check the maps out in this article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062527
So, what gives?
Then there is the question of the exact mode of contagion:
- The virus cannot spread through mosquito bites (https://extranet.who.int/kobe_centre/sites/default/files/20200422_EN_New_mythbusters_rev.pdf).
- The virus cannot spread via food (https://www.webmd.com/lung/qa/can-coronavirus-spread-through-food).
- The virus cannot spread via blood transfusion or through semen (https://www.transfusionguidelines.org/dsg/wb/guidelines/coronavirus-infection and https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2765654).
- The virus does not transmit through air. Now, while there are other studies that say it does linger in the air for some time, it does not seem to be concentrated enough to cause infection (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-coronavirus-spreads-through-the-air-what-we-know-so-far1).
- The virus is difficult to transmit via surfaces (https://www.livescience.com/cdc-coronavirus-surfaces-update.html). And this is big news, because it kind of negates a lot of our prior knowledge about it.
- An infected person does not seem to be able to infect others after 11 days of getting the viral infection (https://www.hindustantimes.com/health/covid-19-patients-not-infectious-after-11-days-even-if-found-positive-singapore-study/story-bate2YpboqyVQVN6KEmcqN.html).
The take away?
Eventually, many of us will be C+ (https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/is-herd-immunity-our-best-weapon-against-covid-19), which may not mean we will be hospitalised or need ventilator support (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6915e3.htm) or die (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality).
Regardless of how much we hide inside our homes, how many layers of PPE we wear, how isolated we make our lives, all we would be doing is:
- postponing the inevitable; and
- making our lives miserable.
But does it have to be this way?
It would seem from currently available information that:
- basic social distancing;
- clean masks;
- reasonable ventilation;
- regular hand-washing with soap;
- avoiding touching one's mouth/nose/eyes; and
- common sensical hygienic and sanitation practices
should suffice in avoiding getting infected, while:
- listening to your body;
- taking temperature more regularly than usual;
- being vigilant for symptoms like fever, cough, chest congestion, and unusual fatigue;
- common sensical precautions during contact or proximity with other people that one would take anyway; and
- reporting to a doctor the moment one is unsure if one is infected, and not insisting on going to work or mingling with others
should be enough to keep one from transmitting it.
The vaccine is a long way off. The cure, maybe never (short of a miracle that would win someone a Nobel).
We cannot stop our lives the way we have, by hitting a Pause button out of the blue.
The ideal way would be to emulate the British stiff upper lip and courage under fire during the Battle of Britain in the last century, and keep calm & carry on. But in an Indian way.
What say, chaps?
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