But misinformation has unfold in India — and typically been accepted as fact. Here’s our truth test of some widespread myths and misconceptions round India’s second wave.
Doctors in India have anecdotally reported seeing extra younger folks presenting with Covid-19 signs.
All that has led to a widespread perception the second wave is disproportionately affecting younger folks.
Fact test: Government statistics present younger persons are not being any worse hit in the course of the second wave than they had been within the first.
During the primary wave, about 31% of sufferers had been aged under 30, mentioned V Okay Paul, the chairman of India’s Covid job power, at a press convention on April 19. During the second wave, that determine has solely elevated marginally to 32%.
Around 21% of sufferers had been between 30 and 45 in the course of the first wave — that proportion hasn’t modified in the course of the second wave, based on authorities statistics.
It’s an analogous scenario with regards to deaths. Last yr, 20% of deaths had been folks aged 50 or youthful. This time, it is 19%.
“There is no overarching excess risk of young people becoming Covid positive,” Paul mentioned. “We don’t see a shift in the age prevalence of Covid-19 disease overall in the country.”
Dr. Chandrasekhar Singha, a senior lead advisor in pediatric vital care at Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital in New Delhi, mentioned he’s seeing extra youngsters contaminated in the course of the second wave than the primary. But, he mentioned, it was doable that the second wave had the identical proportion of kid Covid sufferers — the distinction this time could possibly be that the general totals are far larger.
He urged mother and father to not panic if their youngsters take a look at optimistic — so long as they aren’t chubby and don’t have any underlying respiratory downside, most youngsters do not want any oxygen remedy or hospital admission, he mentioned.
Some variants present in India, together with the UK pressure or B.1.1.7, are additionally extra transmissible, that means they’re simpler to cross on. The UK variant, first recognized in September 2020, is now extra dominant than the Indian variant in Delhi and north India.
Are absolutely vaccinated healthcare employees being contaminated?
No vaccine on the earth will forestall infections in each particular person, however native media has reported that some docs working in hospitals have examined optimistic after being absolutely vaccinated.
That has raised public concern that India’s vaccines may not be as efficient in opposition to the brand new variant that was recognized in late March, because the second wave accelerated.
Fact test: Again, the statistics do not bear that out.
Of the 15 million individuals who obtained each doses of Covishield — the Indian manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine — 5,014 folks have examined optimistic, or 0.03%.
Until Saturday, India had solely rolled out its vaccine to frontline employees and essentially the most weak.
Are new variants behind the second wave?
On March 24, the Indian Ministry of Health revealed in a news launch that “VOCs (variants of concern) and a new double mutant variant have been found in India.”
Fears shortly grew that the brand new variant, referred to as B.1.617, is perhaps why the second wave has hit the nation a lot more durable and quicker than the primary. One of the largest issues was whether or not the variant would possibly be capable of bypass the vaccines being rolled out nationwide.
Fact test: Scientists are nonetheless researching the brand new variant, and there’s not sufficient info to find out whether or not it’s driving the surge in circumstances.
For that, the nation would wish a lot larger genomic surveillance. Experts consider a rustic must conduct genetic sequencing for 5-10% of all Covid take a look at samples to evaluate how a lot variant exercise is happening. India has sequenced lower than 1% of its circumstances, based on Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
Some Indian epidemiologists have instructed there’s a correlation between the rise in variants and the rise in circumstances. But it is also necessary to notice that different variants are at play — as an illustration, the UK variant.
The time period “double mutant” refers back to the variant having two spike protein mutations. One of the mutations, referred to as L452R, has additionally been present in different variants that confer some degree of immune resistance. The second mutation, referred to as E484Q, could also be just like one other mutation discovered within the South Africa variant.
However, merely having these mutations doesn’t essentially imply it’s both extra transmissible or extra deadly — we simply do not have that info but.
Can conventional treatments shield you from an infection?
Since the pandemic started, numerous supposed therapies and preventative measures have surfaced in India, with some promoted by officers and celebrities — regardless of little proof of their effectiveness.
In March final yr, a Hindu group hosted a cow urine consuming celebration in Delhi, reportedly attended by 200 folks. That month, a frontrunner within the nation’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam state instructed the state meeting that cow urine and dung “could be used to treat coronavirus.”
One influential yoga guru launched a natural concoction this February, claiming it cured Covid and was licensed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Fact test: There has been little proof that native treatments can forestall or deal with Covid, and medical our bodies have refuted a number of of those practices.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), a nationwide group of docs, has additionally criticized high-profile figures for selling unproven therapies, saying it’s unethical and undermines the necessity for vital measures like vaccinations.
Could a greater vaccine rollout have prevented the coronavirus outbreak?
So far, simply over 2% of India’s 1.3 billion folks have been absolutely immunized with one in all two vaccines — considerably decrease than the United States, the place 30% of the inhabitants are absolutely immunized.
The sluggish rollout has attracted criticism, with some arguing it could have contributed to the second wave.
Fact test: While vaccines provide people some extent of safety, India probably would have seen an enormous enhance in circumstances anyway as a result of phased nature of its vaccination program, mentioned Michael Head, a senior analysis fellow in international well being on the University of Southampton’s Clinical Informatics Research Unit.
Like most different international locations, India vaccinated its most weak residents first, together with the aged and frontline well being care employees. But younger, match individuals who can journey seem like the largest spreaders of Covid, he mentioned — “and they would probably be the lowest priority in terms of vaccination.”
“So I think you really need to see 50-60% of the population vaccinated before you can really start to demonstrably show the impacts on transmission,” he added. “Because you’re only then getting to the populations who transmitted the most, which is the young people, even if they’re not so severely affected.”
“I think India would have had to be a lot further with its rollout for these outbreaks to have been avoided, assuming all other populations remain the same,” Head mentioned.
To date, the federal government has bought at the very least 205.5 million doses, based on knowledge from the Duke Global Health Innovation Center — putting India within the high 10 Covid-19 vaccine patrons on the earth.
Could fumes from crematoriums trigger air pollution?
New Delhi alone is cremating greater than 600 Covid victims a day, with funeral pyres burning nonstop by means of the evening. That has precipitated some to wonder if the fumes are contributing to India’s air air pollution.
Fact test: Several areas in New Delhi have reported unhealthy ranges of air air pollution in the course of the second wave, and it is believable that the cremations are affecting air high quality.
Previous research have proven that open-air, wood-based cremations launch small quantities of carbon monoxide and different pollution.
The quantities being launched by the cremations are “not significant enough to raise an alarm bell,” mentioned Vimlendu Jha, an environmental and social activist primarily based in Delhi. He added that “we are used to high levels of (air pollution),” and although the present air high quality is poor, it is commonplace by “Indian standards.”
Some context: Air air pollution has at all times been an enormous downside in India. Major elements embrace smog from burning crop fields, vehicular emissions, energy crops, and air pollution from development websites.
“Many of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death in those with Covid-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution,” mentioned the examine.
CNN’s Esha Mitra contributed reporting from New Delhi.