Like our Facebook Page

Early Times Newspaper Jammu, Leading Newspaper Jammu
Breaking News :   Forest fire triggers several landmine blasts along LoC in J&K's Balakote | Pakistani ‘spy’ pigeon set free in J&K | Indian Railways increases advance reservation period of special trains from 30 days to 120 days | Pulwama aborted Car Bomb Blast: Police Identifies Vehicle Owner | Locust Attack: J&K Govt puts Agriculture, depts on alert, seeks pre-emptive measure | High Court dismisses plea on PSA detention of advocate Mian Qayoom | Domicile law failed to address people’s issues: Partap | Social Welfare Deptt Reasi sanctions 3000 pension cases during Covid-19 | After reaching Delhi Omar starts ‘showing teeth’ to Centre | Kashmir Solidari Tea: Now Pak stooges to enjoy tea webinar cooked in ‘innocent blood’ | ‘Don’t blame BJP for 4G now, it can take credit for restoration later! | BJP’s another gift of discrimination to Jammuites | ‘Ineligible’ engineers occupy top posts in JKPDC | SAC gets silent burial as J&K Govt pulls down website | Despite Supreme Court directions cutters, mills, saw mills continue to operate in Sunderbani | Death of Baramulla man pushes death toll due to COVID-19 to 27 in JK, 115 fresh cases reported | Nearly ‘84,000’ vacant posts in JK UT, Govt to fill maximum posts in current year | HM, Jaish-e-Mohammad wanted to carry out 2019-type attack in Pulwama: JKP | End dependence on Kashmir | Dragon Dares India | Covid-19 and global systems: Capitalism vs. Socialism | Govt. Orders no oral test for posts upto and including Pay Level 5 | Power shut down | Transgenders to get pension | Govt Announces CAT Benches In Jammu, Srinagar | Warning for TS, lightning, gusty winds in J&K to continue for next 72 hours | Glorified as ‘Math Teacher’ by ‘intellectual mercenaries’ Naikoo was also involved in making youth drug addicts | Pregnant woman tests positive at MCCH Anantnag after delivery | Commission to get possession of its office in the Legislative Council Building Srinagar soon | ‘Technical Education Department’ to be called ‘Department of Skill Development’ | Police book 4 persons for disobeying quarantine rules | Ajeet Sahu reviews progress on key JSD projects | Repatriation flight is tentatively scheduled from Muscat to Srinagar on June 2 | PRS counters open for general public at J&K Railway Stations | DLSA Jammu launches helpline numbers to facilitate stranded labourers | Dwivedi chairs SLC meets, clears Rs 8.24 cr subsidy claims | Fast track recruitment set to begin in J&K | DLSA Rajouri holds awareness drive ,Urges people to maintain social distancing, hygiene | Munish Gupta asks government to step in & solve problems of residents | Excise Commissioner assesses proposal to rent out deptt’s assets to NHAI | Doda Girl recoveres from COVID 19 sent back to Home | Adamant Principal not willing to sign salary bills of Class IV employees | Lt Guv administers oath to BR Sharma as Chairman JKPSC | DFO says its normal, as per procedure | 61 positive cases reported in north Kashmir, 245 are active positive cases | TMF demands clarity on implementation of PMJAY | CC Bank presents cheque to Advisor Khan towards J&K Relief Fund | SRL Diagnostics launches drive through for COVID-19 sample collection in Jammu | Power Employees resent Union Government proposal to privatize power distribution sector | Back Issues  
news details
Race in time to find credible Solutions to an Invisible enemy Covid-19
4/4/2020 11:26:18 PM

Dr. Deepak Bhardwaj

A microorganism has taken the world by storm, spreading like wildfire to new epicentres around the world. As it left Asia, and leaped towards Iran and Europe, it threatens to infect several lakhs in the US. India is bracing to deal with larger numbers as SARS-CoV-2 is no longer just an unwelcome visitor from abroad but is moving quickly through local communities. Efforts to contain it at every step by implementing quarantines and community lockdowns are frustrated by the fact that for every confirmed case in a community, there are several with undetected infections. At the same time, the scientific community around the world is putting their brains together to deal with this menace in a multi-pronged way. As they come up with preventive methods to recycling drug therapies and new vaccine development, a compressed timeline is making the task more challenging.
While efficacy has not been established for any drug therapy, several known therapies are being considered in the absence of sure-shot treatment plans. Popular antimalarial drugs Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are being used to stop the virus from replicating in the body by inhibiting various viral enzymes. In mid-March, Lopinavir and Ritonavir was approved by the Drug Controller General on an emergency basis to be administered on an infected elderly Italian couple in Jaipur. These are front-line HIV drugs which block Mpro, a key enzyme for coronavirus replication. Also being considered for compassionate use is the antiviral Ebola drug Remdesivir which blocks RNA synthesis, a genetic material of the coronavirus.
Various drugs are being used to control a “cytokine storm,” which is an intense rush of small proteins in response to a virus such as the SARS-CoV-2 when it enters the lungs. Sometimes such self-protective responses from the body’s immune system can turn fatal, killing the patient and need to be controlled by drugs. Tocilizumab, Leronlimab, Sarilumab are reported to enhance the immune response while regulating cytokine storms.
Convalescent plasma and hyperimmune globulin are being looked at as strong contenders, especially in the US. They are derived from the blood of Covid-19 patients who have recovered from the virus. Since they have had a strong immune response to the infection, their blood plasma contains antibodies which can be used to treat others. However, as hopeful it may sound, it is an organisational feat to find donors, extract these therapeutic agents from the blood, and then supply them to either otherwise healthy healthcare workers exposed to high viral loads as a preventive, or to very sick patients who don’t have any other option.
Viruses are inactive on non-living surfaces but the moment they enter living bodies of animals or human beings they become active and pathogenic. Viruses can multiply and complete their life cycle only in living organisms. The SARS-CoV-2 is a single stranded RNA virus which has a protein-based shell with pronounced corona or spikes. Their unique design makes for easy entry and survival in the host. SARS is both severe and acute, and attacks the human respiratory system. But the most troubling part is how rapidly and invisibly it spreads. It can survive on surfaces for several days, waiting for a host to pick it up and accidentally touch their mouth, nose, or eyes.
SARS-CoV-2 has been reported to live for up to three days on hard, shiny surfaces such as utensils, door handles and railings. This is not the case, for example, with HIV, which is also an RNA virus and cannot survive for long in the environment. HIV survives in the fluids like blood and semen only for some hours. When virus-containing fluid leaves the body and is exposed to air, it begins to dry up. As drying occurs, the virus becomes damaged and can become inactive. Once inactive, HIV is “dead” and no longer infectious. Since we are fighting with a more resilient enemy, we need an exact chart on how long SARS-CoV-2 can survive on paper, plastic, fabric, vegetables and cereals - materials that we encounter every day. Most people aren’t aware of sanitising protocols and many lack the resources and protective gear to do so.
Viruses remained an enigma for a long time, an invisible enemy whose effects are often devastating. Several viral diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, chickenpox, polio, hepatitis A and B, rotavirus and haemophilus influenza disease have been controlled. However, no cures have yet been found for HIV, respiratory syncytial virus, the cancer-causing Epstein-Barr virus, Nipah, Lassa and MERS. Vaccines against HIV are still a challenge because HIV divides and mutates so quickly that the antibodies produced by our body become ineffective against newer forms. Antibodies are the defensive proteins produced by the body of a living organism against any foreign matter including viruses.
Many scientists across the globe are working on understanding the structural aspects of the “corona” which is a name for the flared spikes of the virus that latch onto the host cell. If one can hamper its very ability to embed itself in its receptor cell by disarming its spikes, this can help in the development of a vaccination or a cure. According to the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi, the Indian version of SARS-CoV-2 is not as virulent as the one found in Italy due to both its genome sequence as well its corona structure. However, this very difference can also pose a challenge in the development of a universal vaccine.
Vaccine development is going on at breakneck speed. However, it’s unlikely a vaccine can be ready before a year after animal testing and rounds of human trials. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech is developing a nasal vaccine called CoroFlu in collaboration with their American counterpart, Flugen, and American virologists. It builds on FluGen’s flu vaccine candidate known as M2SR which is a self-limiting version of the influenza virus that induces an immune response against the flu. The virologists will insert gene sequences from SARS-CoV-2 into M2SR so that the new vaccine will also induce immunity against the novel coronavirus.
American academic labs are using both conventional methods using bits of viral proteins and creative ideas to come up with a vaccine. The University of Pittsburgh is close on the heels of making a durable vaccine patch which consists of hundreds of sugar-protein micro-needles that dissolve into the skin. This high-tech bandaid doesn’t lose potency nor does it need refrigeration.
Many epidemiologists are pinning their hopes on the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine, widely administered to millions of infants after 1948 as part of India’s universal immunisation programme. It is widely believed that the B.C.G. vaccine, developed to fight tuberculosis, will reduce infections caused by the SARS-CoV-2, and is partly responsible for the reduced number of Covid-19 cases in countries like India and Japan with a history of robust B.C.G. vaccination. Before scientific trials prove its efficacy, officials say one cannot depend on it, advocating quarantine and social-distancing as the only options.
The question is: as infection mounts can the world wait for a year or more before approved drugs and vaccines becomes available? As India enters the third week of the national lockdown, can we protect our most vulnerable groups - our teeming masses on the move to their homes for whom social distancing is an impossible dream, our sick and fragile elderly population, and our security personnel and healthcare professionals?
Assistant Professor
Department of Botany
School of Life Sciences
Central University of Jammu
  Share This News with Your Friends on Social Network  
  Comment on this Story  
Early Times Android App
BSE Sensex
NSE Nifty
Home About Us Top Stories Local News National News Sports News Opinion Editorial ET Cetra Advertise with Us ET E-paper
J&K Govt. Official website
Jammu Kashmir Tourism
Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board
Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board
Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Board
Train Enquiry
Jammu Kashmir Bank
State Bank of India
Passport Department
Income Tax Department
IT Education
Web Site Design Services
Jammu University
Jammu University Results
Kashmir University
IGNOU Jammu Center