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Coronavirus Outbreak

Expert Answers Questions On COVID-19 Vaccination And Treatment

Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Institute of Chest Surgery, Medanta Hospital decodes the common myths about COVID-19 treatment and vaccination

Expert Answers Questions On COVID-19 Vaccination And Treatment

New Delhi: According to the recent data of the Health Ministry, India reported 2.59 lakh new COVID cases, taking its tally to 2.6 crore. The death count rose to 2,91,331 after 4,209 more patients died in the last 24 hours. Experts feel that speeding up vaccination and following COVID appropriate behaviour are the two important keys to control the outbreak in the country. However, India’s vaccinations showed a downward graph amid fears of a third wave in the next 6-8 months.

Amid the scare for COVID-19 cases in India, Banega Swasth India team speaks to Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Institute of Chest Surgery, Medanta Hospital to know more about coronavirus treatment and why it is important for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Here’s what he said:

Question: Is Ivermectin the new Hydroxychloroquine? How effective it is for COVID-19 treatment?

Dr Arvind Kumar: Ivermectin was never projected as a magic bullet. We suggested the use of this drug based on some in vitro studies, which are basically studies done not on patients’ bodies but on laboratories. It was seen, in the laboratory setting, when COVID-19 was mixed in the Ivermectin solution, the virus replication becomes slow. This research was done in Australia and on that basis, it was suggested that this can help in treating the virus growth.

However, in the trials done by World Health Organisation, the same thing didn’t give any sound results. In India also we have done some trials, it was done in Bhubaneswar on the healthcare workers. There the study said that the solution helped in enhancing the health of the healthcare workers. Similarly, some other trials also showed that when this solution was given then for patient the chances of developing a severe disease from mild infection became less.

So, basically, overall, it was found that Ivermectin helps in reducing the growth of the virus, it can also help in preventing a severe disease. But the evidence suggesting this was never that solid that it can be recommended as a standard treatment of care for COVID-19. But the guidelines which the government has released recently, do recommend Ivermectin for treating mild COVID patients, however they have also written that the evidence for the same is weak.

As far as I am concerned, medically, I would say, some benefits of the solutions are there, but the evidence of its working are less. Secondly, it is not an expensive medicine, nor it has many side-effects, so I am a bit in favour of giving this treatment as there are small benefits and anyways, we have less ways to treat COVID, so a little help is not bad.

Also Read: Explainer: All About DRDO’s New COVID Drug

Question: Are antibiotics important in fighting COVID-19? Will you recommend it for the virus treatment?

Dr Arvind Kumar: COVID-19 is a viral infection; antibiotics are those medicines that act against the bacteria. So, antibiotics has zero effect on the virus growth. Some people who are in favour of it says that in this virus infection sometimes one may get secondary bacterial infection and by giving antibiotics we are controlling that. My counter argument to that will be – if you will give antibiotics without any indication that the person might have secondary bacterial infection, you will kill the sensitive bacteria in their body and make the resistant bacteria stay, which will be more harmful.

In my personal practice, I don’t recommend antibiotics for COVID-19 patients at all. I myself have got infected with COVID-19 two months ago, I also did not use any antibiotics for my treatment.

Question: How long the immunity last after getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or after getting infected with the infection?

Dr Arvind Kumar: After one gets infected with COVID, the antibodies start getting made in the body. According to current evidence it is seen that people who have got infected with COVID, their immunity last for up to 3 months and that is why the new guidelines that have come which says people with COVID-19 infection should get vaccinated only after completing three months.

On the other hand, after vaccination, it is believed that one will have antibodies in their body for up to 6 months. But answers to questions like do we need to give booster shot after six months or will the antibodies last in some people for more time than others are the things, we don’t know answers off as of now. But I am hopeful, we have something in two-three months’ time.

Also Read: Dos And Don’ts Of Using Steroids In COVID-19 Treatment

Question: Do people get antibodies in the body after getting the first dose?

Dr Arvind Kumar: Yes, we start getting some antibodies in a few days’ time after getting the first dose of COVID-19 vaccination. However, it is not up to the level we need to fight the virus more effectively and that is why booster shot is given. So, the level of antibodies we have in our body in the second week after getting the second dose of vaccination are treated as the level which will give us utmost protection.

Having said that, I would also say, what vaccines we have in India – Covaxin and Covishield, in that we get about 70 to 80 per cent of protection. Which means if 100 people have got both doses of vaccination and then they are exposed to the virus then out of those 100 people – 70 to 80 people will not get COVID-19 infection, but 20 to 30 people will get infected. However, mostly the virus will be mild, and the possibility of ICU and deaths will be low. Initially it was believed it was zero, but in the recent past we have seen people dying even after getting both the doses. However, remember, the chances of this are very less, therefore, everyone should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Also Read: Coronavirus Explained: All You Need To Know About The COVID-19 Vaccine For Children In India

Question: Would exercising increase the efficacy of the vaccine after the vaccination process in the individual?

Dr Arvind Kumar: Exercising has no effect on the efficacy of the vaccine. We should however do it for our own health and building our own immunity. However, if you have mild symptoms like soreness in arms or body ache or are experiencing chills – then we suggest that you give rest to the body, eat good diet and take a lot of fluids. One can continue workout as usual after 48 to 72 hours when all these symptoms go away.

Question: It is believed that when we take the vaccine in that period our immunity is very fragile, and one is more at risk of catching the infection – is it a myth or fact?

Dr Arvind Kumar: It is a myth. Vaccine stimulates your immune system to fight the virus by making adequate antibodies in the body, which helps in protecting you from developing the disease. Antibodies in your body act as a barrier wall and helps keep the virus at bay, so even when you are exposed to the virus and it tries to enter it, antibodies fight it out before it can enter in your body and create problems.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


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