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k’NO’w COVID

“Currently the entire nation is experiencing a devastating blow from an invisible army- the second wave of Covid 19. Many do not have the option to delay their care, people are dying and the villages are no exception.

The pandemic has changed the realities of our world, we have all had to adjust. Many have seen personal trauma and we cannot understate the tragedy felt in families and wider communities. Only way to slow down the spread is to reduce person to person contact and follow all the safety protocols as per the WHO norms.

One thing that’s clear in the past year is how the world increased to embrace technology. We at Dave have clear views of what these are in the short term and are working towards it. Until then, Let’s Mask up & Stay safe!”

– Ashok, Co-founder, DaveAI

With the second wave of Covid 19 creating havoc in form of a global pandemic, all the organizations and governments are working hand-in-hand with the private sector to provide first hand service and attention to the affected. People in times like this should resort to fulfill both personal as well as social responsibility and protect themselves as well as people around them. Practising healthy habits like social distancing, staying indoors etc can help mitigate large scale spread of the virus. 

While initial studies suggested that the virus spreads through contact and respiratory droplets, recent findings also suggest that the virus maybe airborne and has the potential to transmit from one individual to another in closed air-conditioned rooms. India on an average is recording more than 2 lakh cases per day increasing the overall toll to much higher scales. Scientists are blaming a new strain of the covid also calling it the “double mutation” for the sudden surge in cases. Public awareness regarding various aspects of this new wave of Covid can help give us an upper hand in handling it.

What exactly is the double mutant of the virus?

The new variant of the second wave of Covid 19 also classified as B.1.617 has now been found around 17 countries, WHO said. It further stated that the spread of the second wave has been much faster than that of the first in India.

This particular variant of the virus comprises two significant mutations to the outer spike portion of the virus. While WHO states that the first lineage B.1.617 was discovered in December 2020, traces of it have already been spotted in early October. This virus is termed as a ‘variant of interest’ meaning that it has the potential to further mutate into a more transmissible virus and cause more severe infection compared to the existing strain.

Is the double mutant causing the surge of infections in India?

While there is not yet any solid evidence supporting the new variant as the cause of the sudden surge, WHO says that the laboratory bases study samples suggest increased transmissibility. Genome sequencing further supports the argument that the new variant is the culprit. With Maharashtra being the epicenter of the present wave, the prevalence of this particular mutant of the virus was found to be around 60% according to Anurag Agarwal, director of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. The same strain was also found in samples from around 10 other states in the country.

Is it present outside India?

WHO mentioned that the ‘Indian Strain’(the second wave of Covid-19) of the coronavirus has been found in at least 17 other countries. As of mid April, around 400 sequences in the B.1.617 lineage have been found out of which 265 were found in India. A report released by the U.K. government mentioned 77 cases in England and Scotland and the government designated it as ‘Variant under Investigation’.

Few countries like New Zealand have already prohibited the entry of its citizens and residents from India after a rising number of infections in the people returning. Looking at the rising pace of infections in the country, it is sensible to predict that this new strain will not only affect India, but will also spawn into other countries soon.

Does the vaccine work for the new variant?

While it’s true that not all vaccines have the same success rates against all the variants, it is completely wrong to think the vaccine will have no effect against the variant at all. Both the vaccines available in India- Covaxin and Covishield are proven to show efficiency against the variant and also reduce the symptoms and seriousness in case of contraction after vaccination. The ICMR also stated that Covaxin neutralises multiple variants of SARS-COV-2 and effectively neutralized the double strain as well in many parts of the country. 

What precautions should be taken?

Few of the precautions that can be taken to ensure safety are-

  • People should continuously stay at home and refrain from stepping out of the house unless there’s an emergency of any sorts.
  • If necessary to step out, hand gloves and face masks are compulsory in order to ensure protection from any contact.
  • Social distancing must be ensured at all times.
  • Gloves and masks used outside should be replaced or disinfected regularly.
  • Sanitizers must be used all the time especially when coming in contact with any surfaces which have the potential to transmit the virus.
  • All the potential transmissible surfaces like phone screens, doorknobs, counter tops etc should be disinfected using spray sanitizers or bleaching agents.
  • Hygiene practices must be followed by washing hands for at least 20 seconds including the gap between fingers and under the nails.
  • Proper hydration, a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol can help increase the immunity required to resist the symptoms.
  • Daily monitoring of oxygen levels through an oximeter, sense of taste and smell, shortness of breath, fever more than 102 should be monitored to ensure there aren’t any symptoms.
  • Vaccination has shown both scientific as well as statistical evidence to increase the immunity against the virus. Hence, vaccination is a must.
What should not be done in the present situation?
  • Considering the present scenario, it is highly important that people should not panic and indulge in panic purchasing or take unfavorable decisions.
  • In crucial times like this, information is a really important factor which can affect an individual’s actions. It is important to refrain from spreading misinformation and verify the source before spreading any information.
  • With the utmost requirement of oxygen by the affected patients and hospitals and organizations already running short on oxygen supply, people should purchase only the required capacity of oxygen and refrain from over purchasing and storing the same for future purpose.
  • Constant verification of information available on the websites would help take a well informed decision in case of an emergency.
  • Assistance to the required in form of information or any other means must be provided considering the existing safety norms and precautions.