Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
The Covid-19 pandemic infection the world over has crossed the one million mark and is causing panic across the world. Many cities and countries, including India, are under total shutdown with more than 50,000 deaths caused by the virus.
Recent data about Covid-19 has revealed that around 15 percent infected patients get sick enough to need hospitalization and only 5 percent require ventilator support in ICU. Analysis reveals that the overall case fatality rate for Covid-19 is 3 percent only. For India, the fatality rate is estimated at 2 percent. While countries like Italy and Spain had high fatality rates of about 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively, countries like South Korea and Germany had low fatality rates of 0.97 percent and 0.26 percent, respectively. Age wise, older patients had more fatalities; 80 years plus patients had a fatality rate of about 15 percent and below 50 years age group had a fatality rate of 0.4 percent only. However, most fatalities are among patients who had preexisting diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Compare the Covid-19 fatality rate of 2-3 percent with fatalities of other recent epidemics. The world over, about 15 lakh persons die of tuberculosis every year. About 2 lakh persons died of the H1N1 swine flu. The fatality rate of SARS was 11 percent and severe dengue is 2-5 percent.
New theories about the transmission of Covid-19 are emerging. Some of the main ones are related to temperature and humidity conditions, latitude similarities and BCG vaccination.
Regarding temperature, as per studies, 90 percent of Covid-19 transmissions are occurring in regions of temperatures between 3-17°C. In contrast, fewer than 6 percent of transmission cases occurred in countries with mean temperatures above 18°C. With summers approaching, the temperature range may go higher and transmission may slow down.
Studies reveal that Covid-19 has established significant community spread in cities and regions along latitudes of roughly 30-50 °North with similar weather patterns. The spread has been less in the tropical zones.
Another study, which analyzed data from many countries, claims that countries that have a universal BCG vaccination policy are seeing a lower death rate due to Covid-19 than those that don’t. Middle to high income countries that have a current universal BCG policy had 0.78 deaths per million people. In contrast, middle to high income countries that never had a universal BCG policy had a higher mortality rate of about 16 deaths per million people.
In Northeast India, Covid-19 transmission was miniscule till the Markaz Nizamuddin incident, which spread Covid-19 to many parts of the country. With many persons from the Northeast attending the meet, Covid-19 cases have shot up in the region. Similarly, Covid-19 had spread from church gatherings in South Korea and France and mosque gatherings in Malaysia. Covid-19 has a lesson for us to stay away from large religious gatherings.
With all Indians vaccinated for BCG, the summer approaching, and the lockdown in place, there is hope in the air. Stay home, stay safe. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)