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Coronavirus Briefing Newsletter – Times of India


THE COUNT
  • India’s health ministry has confirmed 1,750,723 Covid-19 cases (567,730 active cases) and 37,364 fatalities. 54,735 fresh cases were recorded on Saturday.
  • Fatalities across the world are 685,102 (over 17.85 million infections).

The numbers are as of Sunday, 12:30 pm IST. Check out the latest data here

TODAY’S TAKE
The risk of transmission on a train
The risk of transmission on a train
Courtesy: University of Southampton

  • A study by scientists from the University of Southampton has examined the chances of catching Covid-19 in a train carriage carrying an infected person. Based on high-speed routes in China, researchers found that for train passengers sitting within three rows (widthwise) and five columns (lengthwise) of an infected person (index patient) between 0-10.3% caught the disease. The average rate of transmission for these ‘close contact’ travellers was 0.32%.
  • The study, in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Academy of Electronics and Information Technology, and Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, also showed that passengers travelling in seats directly adjacent to an index patient suffered the highest level of transmission, with an average of 3.5% contracting the disease. For those sitting on the same row, the figure was 1.5%.
  • The ‘attack rate’ for each seat — the number of passengers in a given seat diagnosed with Covid, divided by the total number of passengers travelling in the same seat — increased by 0.15% for every hour that a person travelled with an index patient. For those in adjacent seats, this rate of increase was higher at 1.3% per hour — the highest among all seats considered. Interestingly, the researchers found that only 0.075% of people who used a seat previously occupied by an index patient went on to contract the disease.
  • The researchers conclude that given the attack rates estimated for passengers in the same row as an index patient, a safe social distance of more than 1 m is required for one hour spent travelling together. After two hours of contact, they consider a distance of less than 2.5 m may be insufficient to prevent transmission.

More details here.

TELL ME ONE THING
BCG shots may slow down Covid-19 spread, says study
BCG shots may slow down Covid-19 spread, says study
  • An American research paper says that the anti-tuberculosis vaccine ‘slows down’ Covid-19 spread within the community. The paper published in Science Advances, a peer-reviewed medical journal brought out by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said that countries with mandatory Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination showed “slower infection and death rates” during the first 30 days of the Covid-19 outbreak in their country.
  • Countries such as India and China, which have included BCG in the national immunisation programme have had relatively lower death rates. Some sections of doctors believe it is the BCG vaccine that is protecting people against Covid-related complications. It is known that the BCG vaccination given to babies within 15 days of birth to prevent TB, strengthens immunity against other infectious diseases too.
  • The US study analysed the day-by-day rate of increase of confirmed Covid cases in 135 countries and deaths in 134 countries in the first 30-day period of each country’s outbreak. “Mandatory BCG vaccination correlated with a flattening of the curve in the spread of Covid-19,” the analysis showed.
  • However, not all health experts are convinced. “It seems just conjecture at the moment, especially since both India and Brazil, which have BCG vaccination programmes, have huge number of cases,” says one. More details here
THE GOOD NEWS
India’s megacities see a dip in Covid-19 reproduction rate
India’s megacities see a dip in Covid-19 reproduction rate
  • With the number of active cases in Delhi down from a peak of 28,000 on June 27 to less than 11,000 as on Sunday, expectations are that the number of active cases in the national capital may fall to less than 1,000 by next month, if the current rate of infection holds up. Delhi’s R-naught rate — which measures the rate of reproduction of the infection, that is, how many healthy people does an infected person transmit the disease to — has been consistently below 1 for almost the entire month of July. Currently, Delhi’s R-naught rate is 0.66 — which means that 100 infected people will infect 66 others. That’s a sharp improvement from the time when Delhi’s R-naught rate was almost 2 — meaning each infected person was transmitting the disease to 2 people.
  • The dipping of the R-naught rate has also manifested itself in the improvement in Delhi’s recovery rate, which, at over 89% is now the highest in the country. However, Delhi isn’t alone — capital cousins Mumbai and Chennai too have joined the under-1 R-naught rate club. Mumbai’s R-naught rate in the last week of July stood at 0.81 while Chennai’s stood at 0.86. Admittedly, it’s still early days for all these three cities to pop the champagne but with their recovery rates well above 80%, a little cautious optimism wouldn’t hurt. Overall, India’s R-naught rate for July stood at 1.16.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma



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