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How to win the war against CoVID-19

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Udit Tripathi
News Junkie, budding writer and an honest Indian.

Ever wandered what makes a soldier unique? Well, it’s his discipline and the way he handle the situation with calmness and never say die attitude. Even when the enemy is invisible and wreaking havoc throughout the world, we need ourselves to behave as a disciplined soldier in order to defeat this deadly CoVID-19 virus.

It’s been almost 4 months since the first case of CoVID-19 was confirmed in India on 30 January 2020 and a lot of information has been obtained about the virus now which can be used to formulate an effective strategy to contain and subsequently eradicate the contagious disease of CoVID-19:

1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness:
Since Vedic times, Indians have been following the practice of proper hygiene and cleanliness by the means of snan (bath) or washing of hands and feet, removal of footwears etc. while preparing of bhog (food), offering prayers, work etc. In modern times, these practices are still very relevant and highly effective against the spread of virus.

2. Social Distancing – Need of the hour:
Given the highly contagious nature of CoVID-19, (the R0 value (reproduction no.) of CoVID-19 has been found on a much higher side than previously predicted, i.e. from 2.2 to 5.7 as per the new CDC report) the most simple yet effective method is to contain the contagion by means of social distancing, isolation, quarantine and ensuring a proper lockdown. Greece is a textbook example for the whole world that how quick response, early detection, ensuring proper lockdown measures, simplification of Govt. procedures, reducing the need of people to step out of their homes etc., led to CoVID-19 containment in the country with just 2000+ cases and 99 deaths. Similar measures in India led to Coronavirus free states of Goa, Manipur & Tripura.

3. Getting the Numbers straight & Antibody Testing:
Behind any effective and successful strategy the no.s and data should be correct. At present the CoVID-19 data of India depicts the plain tabulation of cases and only Rt-PCR test is being conducted which despite being increased manifolds in the past 3 weeks (from 3/million to 300/million) can present a misleading picture. As explained by renowned scientist Prof. Anand Ranganathan, extensive antibody testing is vital as such tests in US and Germany suggests positive cases might be 85% more. Antibody testing results in New York suggests 2.6 million were infected instead of 260,000 which means the actual death rate was 0.6% and not as high as 6% as predicted before antibody testing.
Hence, antibody testing is the need of the hour as it will provide a far more accurate data unlike the current charting of the confirmed cases, which is essential to formulate an accurate and effective strategy to contain the virus such as whether to go for another lockdown or not.

4. Need for BCG revaccination:
When the no. of cases and mortality rate was compared countrywise, scientists discovered that countries that did not have BCG vaccination (live attenuated strain of Mycobactarium bovis) saw 10 times more incidence of mortality from CoVID-19. Prof. Gobardhan Das, a renowned scientist, an expert in TB and BCG was the first to ascertain BCG efficacy against CoVID-19 on 16 March 2020. Within 10 days of it, Australia, Netherlands, UK & Germany started revaccination of BCG to their health workers. Revaccination is necessary as immune system slowly wears off with the progression of age as the immune response after the age of 50 goes down. Though Germany is using a modified recombinant strain of it, Australia is using the same strain used for vaccination in India. Hence, revaccination of the more susceptible health workers and elderly can reduce the no. of cases as well as mortality by boosting their immune response. Since, it is already being vaccinated & tolerated in India, direct vaccination can be carried out as phase 1 safety part is already being done.
Another Mycobacterium strain M(w) strain used in leprosy has shown even better results  against CoVID-19 patients as reported by PGI, Chandigarh recently.

5. Creating awareness, countering fake news:
Being a large and diverse country, India so far has done quite good in creating large scale awareness throughout the country but a lot still needs to be done to bring down the panic among the masses. Antibody testing as stated above can significantly help in quelling the panic as it’ll provide a broader and accurate picture of the actual cases which in turn, will significantly bring down the mortality rate in India which is currently 3.1% to may be even 0.3% or less as seen in the antibody test results in US and Germany.

If the social media and electronic media has its advantage of connecting us with the world, there is a large section of people who are involved in spreading of fake news or propaganda which can lead to confusion, chaos or even unrest among the people. This needs to be effectively countered. A full time cyber soldiers army must be created to counter it in social media whereas a special legislation must be brought out by the Govt. to counter fake and propaganda based news amidst the testing times of the pandemic.

India currently is winning the war against CoVID-19 as the mortality of cases is quite less as compared to the rest countries which may be due to high basal immunity, early lockdown measures and BCG immunisation throughout the country. But, still a lot needs to be done. To contain and subsequently eradicate the CoVID-19 virus from India, large scale antibody testing apart from stricter lockdown measures in hotspot areas, large scale domestic manufacturing of the testing kits, creating awareness, countering of fake news needs to be done at the war scale by the Govt. It is very rightly said, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going and it’s high time to show the toughness and set an example for the whole world to follow.

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Udit Tripathi
News Junkie, budding writer and an honest Indian.
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