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Fact check: Myths and misinformation about India’s Covid outbreak

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.

Government messaging has supported this concept. On April 15, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal released a video, urging younger folks specifically to take care. “In this wave of coronavirus, the youth are getting infected,” he wrote in a tweet. “I appeal to all the youth to take care of themselves.”

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 context: India has a comparatively younger inhabitants in contrast with different international locations, with a median age of 28 in comparison with 38 within the US and 40 within the UK, based on CIA World Factbook. The expertise in different international locations is that youthful persons are extra cell and are subsequently usually tend to unfold the virus.

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 1.7 million folks absolutely vaccinated with India’s homegrown Covaxin vaccine, 695 have examined optimistic for Covid, mentioned the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in April. That equates to 0.04%.

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.

“Those who were tested positive after receiving the doses were mostly frontline workers and healthcare workers. This category was the first to be vaccinated, and they are prone to more occupational exposure,” Dr Balram Bhargava, secretary of division of well being analysis and director-general of ICMR, instructed reporters in April, based on native media studies.

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).

More just lately on May 1, the BJP’s nationwide basic secretary tweeted photos of law enforcement officials inhaling steam in Mangalore, within the southwest state of Karnataka. The follow was a “helpful” preventative measure that “helped officers feel relaxed,” one police inspector instructed CNN.

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.

India is spiraling deeper into Covid-19 crisis. Here's what you need to know
In response to the guru’s natural concoction, the WHO tweeted that it has “not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment Covid-19.”
The WHO has beforehand mentioned “there is no known cure for Covid-19 and there isn’t enough evidence to show steam inhalation helps,” including that it will probably trigger “serious burns if not done correctly.”
“As efforts are under way to find treatment for Covid-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies,” the WHO mentioned in a press release final yr. The use of untested merchandise to deal with Covid might “put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing which are cardinal in Covid-19 prevention,” it added.

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?

India’s vaccination program has been riddled with issues from the outset, with a sluggish launch and now mass shortages throughout quite a few states as demand soars.

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.”

People line up to receive Covid-19 vaccines at a mass vaccination center on April 29 in Mumbai, India.

“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.”

Studies from different elements of the world have additionally proven the largest spreaders of Covid are youthful adults.

“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.

Some context: That’s to not say vaccination would not play an necessary position — India is now racing to catch as much as its preliminary vaccination objectives, with new measures permitting for the import of international vaccines. States are urging the central authorities to supply extra doses, with some consultants warning mass vaccination is vital to restrain the second wave.

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.

Family members embrace each other at a cremation ground in New Delhi, India, on April 26.

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.”

India is facing a double health threat this winter: pollution and the pandemic

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.

But issues about the well being dangers have risen in the course of the pandemic, with consultants warning that air pollution might put folks at greater danger of extreme Covid an infection and enhance the pressure on public well being.
A examine final yr by Harvard University examined greater than 3,000 counties throughout the United States, and discovered that greater ranges of air air pollution had been linked to greater loss of life charges from Covid-19.

“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.

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Monday, May 10, 2021
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Updated on May 10, 2021 1:29 am

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