OpEd// The impact of the epidemic depends on three factors: the infectivity and virulence of the agent, the susceptibility of the host, and the environmental favorability of the agent.
That simply means that if the infectivity is high, it’s going to attack more people, but if the virulence is high, it will kill more people without being able to be transmitted. If the host is not susceptible to infection then also epidemic will fade or may not produce increased case fatalities. And if the environment is not conducive to viral survival then also the epidemic will fade. Let’s discuss these factors on Indian context.
1. Agent: According to a Chinese study in Peking University on 103 patients, they identified two strains of COVID 19, the original S type and L type, which is a mutated type ; but their study found more of L type. It suggests that L type is more aggressive mutated form. We don’t know which type is predominant in India? But overall the infectivity of COVID 19 is pretty high with a favourable mortality profile which is actually pro-epidemic. So the agent remains the same as for the rest of the world, till now.
2. Host: The host factor is very important in an epidemic. The infectivity and severity of the disease, as well the mortality is determined by the immune response of the host. The COVID 19 causes more suffering in the elderly and more mortality.
Though the young patients are infected, they usually show mild or no symptoms. In 80% of cases, symptoms are mild, 15% of cases symptoms are moderate and 5% cases having severe symptoms like ARDS and overall mortality is around 2.5%. Most of the mortality is above 60 years of age with highest above 80 ( 14 % in Italy vs 10% in Wuhan).
The mortality is almost insignificant among individuals less than 20 years of age ( 0.3%), and nil up to 9 years . So the age composition of a country will determine it’s mortality. A country like Italy where 22% of the population are elderly (more than 65 years) the mortality is very high . Whereas in India 6.4% are above 65, so naturally the mortality will be less here.
Apart from this age composition, another factor is important which is the immunity of the host. We have two types of immunity. The first line is Innate immunity and the 2nd line is Adaptive immunity. The innate immunity does not have a memory and it is mediated by NK cells, macrophages and neutrophils. The Adaptive immunity is mediated by T and B lymphocytes and it needs a memory of a previous encounter with the pathogen. But here our Innate immunity is important as the COVID 19 is a new virus. Do we have any proof that we Indians have strong innate immunity?
An Indo- US team of researchers has found that Indians, compared to other world populations carry more NK cells that can detect and terminate infections at an early stage. Indians acquired the activating KIR (killer cell immunoglobulin receptor) genes as a result of natural selection to survive environmental challenges.
So there is some proof that we have a stronger first-line defence, maybe as we are exposed to more infective agents and that determine a specific microbiome inside our body.
Apart from that, observation in the current epidemic is, mortality is less still in malaria-endemic areas. We still don’t know the causal relationship. But studies have shown Plasmodium Falciparum requires Zinc for parasitic growth, and zinc also inhibits the RNA dependent RNA polymerase of COVID 19 and Chloroquine is Zinc Ionophore. So, there may be an interrelationship! But being a malaria-endemic country we can breathe a sigh of relief!
There is another factor as well. A new study is recruiting health workers to evaluate the effect of BCG vaccination in the prevention or manifestation of COVID 19 infection . BCG vaccine is given in children to modulate their immunity against tuberculosis. It actually enhances T cell-mediated immunity which is a form of Adaptive immunity, but at the same time with the help of IL1 Beta, it stimulates innate immunity, as well.
BCG vaccination has been shown to reduce 30% of viral infections, with the help of this Innate immunity. So BCG, Tuberculosis and Innate immunity all seem to link together. We don’t know till now whether we will have another advantage, in the fight against this virus, of being a Tuberculosis endemic country.
3. Environment: It is a hot topic now that whether the hot climate of our country will be able to kill the virus? We still don’t know. But let’s see the temperature and latitude of the affected countries! The ‘Global Virus Network ‘ has predicted that weather modelling can explain the spread of COVID 19.
Their observation is that the spread of COVID 19 is along a narrow corridor of 30-50″ N at consistently similar weather conditions of 5 to 11 degree Celsius and 47% to 79% humidity. They also suggested that a temperature rise of 12 degrees Celsius or higher, the viral transmission may be difficult.
A study in China also found that that the virus transmission is best at a temperature 8.72 degree Celsius and with every 1-degree rise in minimum temperature, the total number of cases go down. So what will be the fate of the virus in boiling temperature of our country is a valid speculation. We didn’t have a single casualty in the MERS epidemic in 2012, which was a deadly Coronavirus. We don’t know whether it was due to a proper isolation or our climate!
Amidst of fearful theories, I tried to offer you a ray of hope. But remember all these conjectures are without firm evidence. Still, I believe we can win the disease with positivity. So just hold tight till mid-April, maintain a lockdown properly, and leave the rest to scorching sun rays.
OpEd By Dr Arup Halder and Shared By Santosh Kumar. This is merely an OpeD and may not necessarily reflect the official views of the EurAsian Times. Consult a doctor if you have symptoms of coronavirus.
India Bets Big On Nikki Haley To Emerge As Vice Presidential Candidate Under Trump
Nikki Haley has echoed some of the same arguments Donald Trump has made on national topics such as cancel culture, defunding police forces and statue removal, although the tone and frequency between Trump and Haley differ dramatically.
India has pinned hopes on Nikki Haley to become the US Vice President (VP) should Donald Trump get re-elected this November. Haley, a first-generation Indian American, is expected to strengthen Indo-American relation and also attract a lot of voters including women and minorities.
According to the reports, there is speculation that Trump might switch out Vice-President Mike Pence for Nikki Haley as his running mate in the hopes of boosting his lagging approval numbers among the broader electorate.
Despite resigning as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Haley has been active in politics. She has been fundraising for Republican congressional candidates as well as in the Senate and gubernatorial arena.
She has set up a non-profit organization to boost her policy priorities and has continued to pen editorials on foreign policy. And Hailey has retained a small, tightly knit orbit of advisers.
The former governor of South Carolina, Haley is one of the people who left the Trump Administration on good terms. She has even promised to campaign for the President for his re-election bid.
Haley has echoed some of the same arguments Donald Trump has made on national topics such as cancel culture, defunding police forces and statue removal, although the tone and frequency between Trump and Haley differ dramatically.
According to experts at EurAsian Times, Haley’s recent moves can be seen as a carefully executed plan to stay involved in key Republican policy circles and the national discourse. Haley has fundraised for almost a dozen Republican Senate candidates, many of them in tough re-election races, and has been a special guest at Republican Governors Association (RGA) events.
While Haley has dismissed reports about her running for VP, her being an influential person of colour could help Trump win constituencies he is currently losing.
India pinning hopes on Nikki Haley
The US Presidential elections are a spectacle observed globally and India would be hoping Trump wins and Haley gets elected as the VP. Haley enjoys nationwide popularity amongst Indian-Americans and her election as VP could lead to stronger ties between Washington and New Delhi.
She has natural links to India with her parents having emigrated to the US in the 1960s from Punjab. Haley has often pointed out that India is an example of a free government and recently even applauded New Delhi’s decision to ban 59 Chinese applications and for standing up to China.
Good to see India ban 59 popular apps owned by Chinese firms, including TikTok, which counts India as one of its largest markets. India is continuing to show it won’t back down from China’s aggression. https://t.co/vf3i3CmS0d
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) July 1, 2020
With an Indian-American at the helm of affairs, New Delhi would see it as an opportunity to get closer to Washington. It could lead to India benefitting in the areas of trade, defence and investment and would be a huge blow to neighbours China and Pakistan.
US Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in November and will be contested between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. While Biden’s re-election does not mean that India and the United States will have weak relations, having Trump in the White House and Haley as VP would definitely lead to stronger Indo-American ties.
Armaan Srivastava. Views Personal
Russian T-14 Armata Tanks Now On Sale; Hopes To Challenge US’ M1 Abrams
The T-14 is part of the Armata’s heavily tracked standardized platform, which serves as the basis to develop the main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier and other armoured vehicles.
Russia’s T-14 Armata tank will be up for sale from 2021. This was announced by Denis Manturov – Industry and Trade Minister of Russia. He said that they are already receiving requests for the deadly T-14 Armata tanks from several foreign customers.
The T-14 is part of the Armata’s heavily tracked standardized platform, which serves as the basis to develop the main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier and other armoured vehicles. It has fully digitized equipment, an unmanned turret and an isolated armoured capsule for the crew.
“Russian producers are ready to offer potential buyers both air defence systems, such as the S-300 and the S-400 and advanced aircraft and helicopters,” explained Dmitry Shugayev, Head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation.
“We are preparing the MiG-35 light fighter for sale and are promoting the latest T-14 ‘Armata’ tank,” he added.
The Armata T-14 was first demonstrated during the Victory Day Parade in May 2015 in Moscow. The actual production of the tanks was delayed. The first nine T-14 Armatas were originally planned to be handed over to the Russian Ground Forces (RGF) in 2018. This date then got pushed to 2019 and then to 2020.
Russia hopes that the T-14 Armata tank will give a tough competition to America’s M1 Abrams that destroyed thirty-seven of the Soviet-designed T-72s during the 1991 Gulf War.
T-72s remain Russia’s primary battle tank, supplemented by turbine-engine T-80s and four hundred more advanced T-90s. According to Sébastien Roblin, an expert on security and military, while Russia may finally have a 125-millimetre sabot round that can threaten Western main battle tanks at the range, only its handful of new T-14s tank are capable of actually using it.
Experts claim that the 2A82 gun could be retrofitted to numerous older T-90s and T-72s so far appear not to have materialized.
Despite Russia’s defence spending, the Russian military has continued with the production of the new tank. The production is overseen by Rostec Corporation, the Moscow conglomerate that specializes in consolidating strategically important companies in Russia’s defence sector.
It has undergone field testing in Syria. Although the extent of testing and the results are still unclear, a Russian media outlet suggested that “one Armata was completely destroyed.” There’s no confirmation on that but it might not look good to its buyers.
“It [the T-14 Armata tank] is expensive because it is still undergoing extra trials and modernization after the defence ministry requested additional technical solutions in order to begin serial supplies starting from the next year under the existing contract,” said Manturov in April this year.
He further said that next year, when serial supplies of these tanks to the defence ministry are launched and an export certificate is obtained, they will begin to work with foreign clients. “Preliminarily, bearing in mind that we cannot provide all the documentation to our foreign clients. We do have preliminary orders,” he added.
US-China Tensions: US Wants India To ‘Match Its Weight By Actions’ In The South China Sea – Experts
Tensions between the US and China increased when the US deployed two aircraft carriers in the South China Sea with a clear message to Beijing that it doesn’t welcome China’s belligerence in the region.
Amid inflating tension between the US and China, the US administration is keen that India should play a vital role in the South China Sea and match its weight by actions.
Recently, the US deployed two aircraft carriers in the South China Sea with a clear message to Beijing that it doesn’t welcome China’s belligerence with its neighbours and increasing the regional tensions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry, in response, accused the US of deliberately sending its ships to the South China Sea so that it can demonstrate its strength and accused the US of trying to create a rift between the regional countries.
This is not the first time that the US and China have been engaged in muscle-flexing in the region. Experts say that the situation is slightly different this time as the coronavirus epidemic has drastically increased tension between the two nations.
The South China Sea which lies between Indonesia and Vietnam is spread over about 3.5 million square kilometers. China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have claims over the waters which is believed to be high on natural resources.
After the vicious India-China border dispute, there have been talks that India could play an active role in the South China Sea. India considers the South China Sea as a neutral place and believes that this neutrality should be maintained as these waters do not belong to any particular country.
Experts believe that India has come close to the US due to degenerating ties with China, but it is not correct to assume that India will play a very big role in the South China Sea. Experts say that – the US views India as a massive regional force and wants New Delhi to challenge the Chinese aggressively, something the Indian government is not too interested in.
Experts recall that when Obama came to India in 2015, New Delhi said that it was committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and Beijing was quick to denounce the Indian statement.
After that, India never directly mentioned the issue by taking the name of China. On various occasions, India has talked about China’s expansionism but without naming it directly, which clearly suggests that New Delhi does not want to offend Beijing.
Recently as EurAsian Times reported, India permitted Australia to join the annual trilateral Malabar naval exercise involving India-Japan-USA. With Australia joining in, this could cement the QUAD alliance which Beijing considers as an anti-China grouping.
The decision to allow Australia to be a part of exercise comes at the heels of Chinese hostility in Galwan Valley, South China Sea (SCS) and the Strait of Taiwan. According to experts, the addition of Australia could re-activate the Quadrilateral Alliance (QUAD) between Australia, India, Japan and the US, which New Delhi had been avoiding so far.
OpED By Nitin J Ticku. Views Personal
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