Survival of the Immunest

In this digital world, global pandemics generate so much medical literature and everyone becomes a self acclaimed immunologist, including myself. Everyone doles out wisdom to catch the trend. This article is going to be about questions and pertinent answers at the moment.

Can we develop immunity?

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Yes if you have been infected, possibility of you catching a re-infection is less. It is not completely ruled out, since there have been wave of reinfections in Singapore, China. Since your body has already dealt with this virus before and now it has the arsenal ready to defend itself next time, you are certified immune. We can verify that by checking for anti bodies in your blood, and presence of them would deter the virus in future. Serological tests are needed which check for immunoglobulin which are immune molecules in our body. But like all tests these are not perfect, not just yet. General foods from vitamin c fruits, plenty of rest, good sleep, and some homeopathic medicines, nasal remedies all boost your general immunity.These might in turn boost up your response against the coronavirus. But do we have a specific mass tested food to boost our immunity against this covid-19, I am afraid none yet. Ironic thing is our best case of developing immunity against this disease, is to get one, but not suggested, as prevention is always the best cure. There are many infected patients who are asymptomatic and they die, and after death tests prove the presence of virus. As said in another articles, this is a new virus and it mutates fast. So all our wisdom and treatment is for the virus strain of yesterday and not the new mutated strain today. People with no symptoms or mild infections would have developed only weak antibodies and hence are prone to infection in the future. How will we know if a infected person is immune for life, wait, you wait for his lifetime. Second bout of reinfection wave does not infect like the first one, and this strain is more weaker and tends to affect less people.

Is a vaccine possible?

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Plasma from recovered people are being currently tested for anti virus vaccine. Plasma from any blood type patients can be used for treatment. Various clinical trials are happening through the world in different stages of drug development. We are leveraging data analytics, collective good, super computers, and dedicated medical fraternity in trying to churn a killer vaccine to beat them all. But a vaccine is not a magic potion concocted in a kitchen. It takes times, trials, animals testing, human trials, observation, mass producing, validation of recover process. Antibodies are as well not equally generated by human beings. Some people generate a powerful response which are more effective than weaker ones. Kids seem to be at lesser infection rate than adults. And in adults, female seem to be at better immunity than males. And among them, adults older than 60 seem to be at worse risk. So this virus is not equally affecting all. It has to forcefully select its patients to infect. Hope is a beautiful thing.

Are lab tests 100% effective ?

I am hearing false positives and false negatives first time since statistics class. I have never understood then and now. Rapid detection kits which were proven to detect virus in 1 hour are not working. PCR kits which indicate the presence of virus generate false positive samples as well. False positives give negative feeling to people as if they are exposed to the virus and diverts medical staff to focus attention. false positive-a test result which wrongly indicates that a particular condition or attribute is present. False negatives are even more dangerous, leaving the people more vulnerable as they would not be careful. Two or more tests are conducted now to check for more authenticity. The method of nasal swab collection is not standardized and is a new procedure, lab technicians need to be trained. It is not just about getting it right once, but every time and over a million times, and by all staff involved. Error percolate if the methodology is not right, and even during lab work. Meticulous care is taken by lab staff in testing batch samples, any unknown exposure to virus is deadly. With proven methodologies developing, we should be able to standardize an effective lab protocol soon and mandated by WHO.

Are the measures enough?

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China shut down an entire province-Wuhan to contain the virus. The virus was contained with a specific region, that region was less populated and less developed compared to other big cities of China like Beijing or Shanghai. The spread was less and measures were strict. Policing measures were done, smart phone tracking and hospitals were set up on a war footing. South Korea did mass testing and did similar measures and was able to contain the spread. Japan which advocates cleanliness as part of their culture was able to limit the spread due to their citizens. Tokyo residents were always using a face mask prior and they had no problem using the same now. Germany did mass testing, controlled crowd management, cancelled all sports leagues. German people in general were crowd averse and adhered to social distancing during normal days and more so when advocated by the government. Germany seems to be winning so far. USA which adopted no approach except for corporate restraining, seems to be ahead of the curve in fatalities. There is no public restraining order nor flights cancellation. Some people seem to be enjoying florida weather in beaches, and some using cheap tickets to New York as an excuse now. India has adopted mass quarantine measures and total lockdown of the 1billion plus nation for more than 5 weeks now. Cases seem to be retreating but the virus has not yet been contained. Spread is still happening, with a densely populated space and huge population, it is a nightmare controlling this invisible virus. These measures are more than one could do given the limited arsenal of avail abilities. More draconian measures would give rise to mental disturbances, mass civil unrest and more deaths due to poverty than the virus in itself. Nations worldwide are debating the combination of lives and economy and is it not an easy question to answer.

Can we all develop herd immunity?

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With a known comforting fact that people recovering from the virus are majority immune to the virus. We could lead up the economy with such people and with more people developing immunity, virus would not be able to catch up to the vulnerable sections. It would have lost its most basic property virulence. Our understanding of covid-19 seem to stem from the fact of MERS,SARS which are other fellows of coronavirus family. Though they were more deadly, they infected less people and were not transmitted via air droplets. Has herd immunity ever been tried experimentally, No. UK wanted to try this approach but decided against it given the back lash. It is controversial in nature and this results in many deaths as well. You believe a government when it does to protect you and not when it allows a virus to infect you. We do not know the number of people infected and how can we ensure that the poor are not impacted. Elderly also should be cared for, otherwise deaths would be more. Given the family set up in India, and dense population, it is not like young live alone and elderly. What do you do in such a large family living in a cramped space. We hope that virus would die before it reaches the critical mass. Is it a fact that young have not died from it, No, less immune young people also would die from the infection. Can we deal with barrage of cases flooding the hospitals, No. India’s doctors and medical staff are already overburdened with cases, and medical system would collapse under the strain.

Disclaimer: all the inputs expressed has been culled from various articles through the web, and no medical advise is suggested through the same. All the viewpoints are for informational purposes only and not for experiments.

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