By DR. ARUN MITRA :
Till date, we have failed to ascertain origin of this virus. There are several hypotheses being given but there is nothing concrete as yet. Some people have even gone to the extent of blaming it as a biological weapon which got loose! This will require a lot of epidemiological work and laboratory studies to find the exact cause.
THE medical fraternity around the globe is up in arms to mitigate the impact of Novel Corona virus. The WHO has declared it a Pandemic and issued guidelines for its prevention. Governments in each country are following those details. These include personal human behaviour, travel restrictions, early medical advice, avoid crowded places etc. On the personal level, the people are being advised to care for personal hygiene, wash hands more frequently, not to touch objects unnecessarily, avoid touching the face, keep distance from the infected persons, cover the face while coughing or sneezing, wear the mask if running flu, throw the used tissues in a covered bin.
People have been advised to avoid large gatherings. Schools, colleges even temples are being closed. There are severe restrictions on international travel. The people from abroad are being screened. Early medical advice is important for the purpose of detection and isolation of suspicious cases. Till date, we have failed to ascertain origin of this virus.
There are several hypotheses being given but there is nothing concrete as yet. Some people have even gone to the extent of blaming it as a biological weapon which got loose! This will require a lot of epidemiological work and laboratory studies to find the exact cause. The primary aim at this moment is to prevent the spread of the disease and save human lives. Unlike antibiotics, there are not many anti-viral drugs. Therefore, most of the viral disease are managed with supportive measures.
The elderly people with Co-Morbid conditions are likely to develop more serious form of illness. Those with low immunity are at a higher risk. Nutrition plays a major role in developing immunity to fight back the disease. Our people lack proper nutrition. Our Hunger index at 102 out of 117 speaks of the situation. Large number of our population lives in shanty areas sharing rooms with each other. If any of them catches infection, it is likely to spread faster.
That is why community acquired corona infection has to be prevented on priority. Whereas the affluent sections using hi-tech facilities can afford to work from home, it is impossible for the manual workers to stay back. Moreover, they do not have any backlog of supportive income. They have to venture out every day to meet their essential needs. They are much more vulnerable but relatively much less informed and conscious about the preventive measures. While the world is much worried to find treatment to the Corona Virus disease, lots of myths are being spread about its treatment. Some groups are portraying cow urine and cow dung as panacea for the Covid-19. A BJP legislator Suman Haripriya from Assam said in the State Assembly that ‘gaumutra’ (cow urine) and ‘gobar’ (cow dung) can cure the Corona virus.
“We all know that cow dung is very helpful. Likewise, when cow urine is sprayed, it purifies an area... I believe something similar could be done with ‘gaumutra’ and ‘gobar’ to cure coronavirus (disease),” she said. She even said a ‘hawan’ (offering prayers to gods in front of fire), using cow dung, can be performed in China to purify the country’s air. The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha is organising cow urine parties. People were given cow urine in ‘kulhads’ at a gathering organised by Swami Chakrapani, the President of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha.
It is important to understand that these are ways to prepare a mindset and keep the people in medieval thoughts. Even during such times of deep crisis, there are interests who care only for profit. Many multinational corporations have jumped into fray to do research on vaccine production. Gerald Posner, author of the “Pharma: Greed, Lies and the poisoning of America” has cautioned that whereas we need treatment and vaccines for the new Corona Virus outbreak, many companies view it as a potential profit making business.
Sharon Lerner has referred to Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and other House members who wrote to Trump pleading that he “ensure that any vaccine or treatment developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars be accessible, available and affordable,” a goal they said couldn’t be met “if pharmaceutical corporations are given authority to set prices and determine distribution, putting profit-making interests ahead of health priorities.” But many Republicans opposed on the plea that it would restrict the industry’s ability to profit, arguing that it would stifle research and innovation.
The Bill to set potentially exorbitant prices for vaccines and drugs was carried through. In India too, despite the findings of Committee on High Trade Margins in the Sale of Drugs in its report submitted on December 9, 2015, that the trade margin of the drugs be capped, no steps have been taken. The public sector vaccine producing and drug producing companies which produced drugs at lower costs and participated in the national health programmes have been virtually closed. We need to take effective measures to minimise the effect of infections. We have to ensure healthy nutrition to all our people; provide hygienic condition and clean housing along with safe drinking water and sewerage facilities to remain healthy. There is need to streamline the drug prices; develop the drugs and vaccines producing industry in public sector. This would need changes in priorities and increase in spending on public health.