Were we to set the clock back by eight months possessed with a premonition of the Covid pogrom, what was that one imperative the medical fraternity should have been seized of? No matter the Covid-triggered rush for more hospital beds, isolation wards, PPEs, proscribing of social proximity or the frenetic global quest for a fail-proof defense against the virus, there is an aspect of healthcare that has for long remained on the back-burner. The professional bridge between doctors and the digital world has stayed rather weak. The ever-advancing technological marvels of communication, and the ease with which a diverse sweep of humanity can be strung together with just a click on the laptop haven’t really been an attendant theme of mass healthcare.
Doctors are a curious lot. They deal with patients based on knowledge, experiences and evidence and endorse elasticity of care rather than resorting to water-tight compartments in terms of medically treating those who need their services. It is in this context, doctors need to take a fresh look at digital healthcare in our post-Covid world. And that’s what they are doing, as is their wont, to rise to the calling of the day without a whimper.
In keeping with striking changes taking place in health care, Telehealth has assumed importance like never before. Doctors have begun to realize that in the wake of Covid-19, Telehealth will play a major role in reassuring patients that their cases, whether Covid-19 or co-morbidities, can be effectively addressed through this unique mode. There was a time when it was difficult to have doctors fall in line with this idea, but human history and its compelling consequences have made humanity rally around newer ways of building life. And so, doctors resorting to telehealth these days is no surprise.
Even the WHO now perceives Telehealth as one among essential services that would strengthen the base of the global health care system, particularly at a time when one-on-one contact is a matter of concern. There was a time when we would rush to the hospital at the drop of a hat but now, with the dare of Covid-19, both patients and doctors are willing to look at Telehealth as a viable option, and the trend is picking up fast.
Of course, a new system will call for new orientation, among doctors and patients. But one thing is clear – even if Covid-19 is dealt with effectively at some point of time, the surge in Telehealth will not be allowed to slacken.
Reassuring news is coming out of the labs from across the world as scientists work tirelessly to find that one magical potion which will bring the planet back on its feet – a vaccine for the marauding Corona Virus. Human trials for COVID-19 vaccines are under way, with Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and India at the forefront of the ongoing vaccine research to fight an invisible enemy. In India, about a thousand volunteers are participating in the human clinical trials.
Meanwhile, the human trial of the vaccine produced by Oxford University is showing promising results whereas Russia has claimed its vaccine is ready. At home, The Drugs Controller-General of India (DCGI) has permitted development of two vaccines — one being worked out by Bharat Biotech International Limited in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the other by Zydas Cadila Healthcare Ltd. They are in phase 1 and 2 of human trials. Around the world, more than 140 vaccines are at the preclinical stage, 27 have managed to be applied for human trials and one has been approved for military use in China, as reported by Financial Express on 22nd July.
Why Human Trial of Vaccine is needed before launching
Human clinical trial of vaccine is done to establish the safety and efficiency of a vaccine prior to it being licensed. One vaccine formulated to cure any pandemic disease like Covid-19 needs clinical trial. Earlier, low-dose vaccines or medications were used to be injected into animals like monkeys, rabbits and hamsters, but in special cases like Covid-19, human trial is mandatory before launching any vaccine. The simple reason for human trial is that Covid19 is said to be affecting only humans, and not animals. For clinical trial, a set of human volunteers are being chosen with different health conditions. Any vaccinal trial on the human body, after a certain period of time, will show the side-effects or reactions. It is, therefore, necessary to test the effects on humans who are perfectly healthy as well as on people having conditions like hyper-tension, high blood sugar, and heart diseases.
According to the renowned U.S.-based health protection agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the general stages of development of a vaccine are:
• Exploratory stage
• Pre-clinical stage
• Clinical development
• Regulatory review and approval
• Quality control
A vaccine for Covid-19 goes through four stages of human trials.
- Phase One Trial: in this stage, the targeted group of volunteers is given injection, and data collected thereafter on antibody production, any outcome or side-effects or illness due to infection. This is done to estimate the efficacy of the particular vaccine.
- Phase Two Trial: the second stage is focused on the immunogenic and toxicity results from phase one healthy volunteers. This stage engages more healthy volunteers to determine the reactions in sets of human volunteers on different test schedules.
- Phase Three Trial: the stage involves the continuous focus on monitoring the toxicity and immunogenicity on a larger scale of testing.
- Phase Four Trial: this stage is about monitoring the previous stages that collect information continuously on vaccine usage, adverse effects, and long-term immunity.
A vaccine must claim to be safe and effective in natural disease conditions before being submitted for approval and mass production. More than 140 vaccines have been produced but haven’t made it to human trial yet. A clinical human trial of a certain vaccine takes a total time of 12 to 18 months but due to this pandemic situation and the resultant human crisis, the trial time has been reduced. As per data available, we might expect a vaccine by December 2020. But then, we will have to keep in mind that this vaccine will only be available in government and private hospitals under supervision of experts.
Whenever existence has been at stake, humanity has always come together as a unified entity to fight and defeat odds. It feels great to know that so many people have volunteered for Human trials, and it doesn’t matter where they all came from. We hope people realize that our strengths lie in being together. The day may not be too far when we can celebrate life once again by successfully defeating the pandemic but as we do so, we must this time return to nature what we have been taking from it mindlessly. Nothing is granted on planet Earth, as the pandemic has proved, not even our existence.
The coronavirus continues to spread. As more countries impose quarantines, lockdown and social distancing, the fear of contamination and income or job losses is increasing uncertainty worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.”
Humans have no in-built immunity to fight this new disease and most people who contract the virus will have very little or mild symptoms. However, some people who contract it will develop severe or even critical symptoms. The first positive case of COVID-19 was found in the Wuhan in the Hubei province of China in December. Since then, COVID-19 has spread across the world affecting as many as 157 countries. Researchers think COVID-19 originated in an animal species – most likely in bats – and got transferred to human beings through a secondary source.
COVID-19 Symptoms include-
• Respiratory Issues
• Shortness of Breath
• infection leading to pneumonia
• kidney failure
• Severe acute respiratory syndrome
How to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
WHO (World Health Organizations) recommends –
• Washing your hands regularly
• Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
• Cooking meat and eggs thoroughly
• People with symptoms stay home and self-isolate to avoid spreading the virus to others
In recent months, the emergence of the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has impacted the world of higher education largely. This outbreak has highlighted the vulnerability of international students pursuing their education abroad and has also highlighted the threat to global exposure and mobility posed by the virus which stops at no signals. With no news of the virus disappearing any time soon, higher education institutions need to take a multi-aspect approach to the situation, with measures to deal with both the impact on health and academic life of the students and the vast higher education community.
The top countries across the world have decided to carry on with the lockdown (Complete or partial lockdown) for now. The only medicine to prevent this virus is social distancing and staying at home.
How to deal with Social Distancing-
• The appropriate social distance is maintaining a distance of three to six feet
• Avoid handshaking or hugging and overall physical contact with other people
• Avoid visiting public places
• Limit inter personal contact and instead chat on the phone using apps such as FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp.
Uncertainty around the COVID pandemic started to be noticed in China but is now evident in all major countries around the world. High levels of uncertainty related to the coronavirus pandemic have been recorded in several parts of the world with a large number of cases (such as France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The current level of uncertainty related to the coronavirus crisis is accompanied by slowing down of growth and development and tighter financial conditions as the economic impact is already visible in the countries which are most affected by the outbreak.
What Should Students Do During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Campuses have become deserted and universities have planned to conduct online classes, leaving many students unsure about what to do next. There is so much uncertainty all around as everything is getting canceled. During this time of chaos, universities and the staff are working hard to ensure that students are safe and able to continue their studies mostly in by arranging online classes. The student community must keep themselves updated about the developments of the virus.
Students in India should-
• Increase their Immune system
• Stay at home
• Increase intake of Vitamin C
• Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
• Stay properly hydrated
• Clean clothes with hot water and soap after returning from the street or market
• Always use a mask while going out
• Always wash your hand with soap for at least 20 seconds or clean hands with hand sanitizer
• Use a cotton cloth mask for regular use and disinfect the masks as early as possible.
• Most importantly avoid public gathering to stop the spread.
How can a student cope with anxiety?
Maintaining your mental health and wellbeing is important during such times of crisis. Watching the news or reading about the pandemic on social media continuously can be distressing so take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to stories on the pandemic now and then.
Take care of your body by practicing yoga regularly, engage in indoor exercises like freehand, aerobics and zumba, and meditate regularly to avoid stress. Try to have healthy eating habits, well-balanced meals, abundant sleep, and avoid consumption of alcohol. Connect with your friends over social media and try to indulge in some activities you enjoy with your family at home.
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