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Doctor’s body call for Covid-19 variant testing in Kashmir

(Asian News Hub) – Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Thursday called for genetic testing of positive samples to look for new Covid-19 variants in the valley.

“Genetic testing would not only help identify known mutants that might have entered the valley but also check whether any mutant has emerged within the region,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

“Detecting and tracking variants is critical to prevent another deadly wave of Covid-19 like the one we saw earlier,” he said.

“Picking up variants is key to formulate appropriate and effective health policy that would help prevent and control their spread in the community.”

“If we don’t know the changes in the genetic structure of the virus, we are running blind,” DAK President said.

“Viruses have a tendency to mutate and thousands of Covid-19 mutations have been recorded across the globe since the outbreak of the pandemic.”

“Most mutations are meaningless, but others can make a virus more infectious, deadly or resistant to vaccines and treatment,” he said.

“Three foreign strains – UK, South African and Brazilian strains that have found their way into India spread more easily and research is underway if they can cause more serious disease.”

“Recently, two highly mutated variants – N440K and E484K have been found in Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana that have raised concern because their presence have been detected at a time when cases are rising in these states,” Dr Nisar said. 

“E484K is commonly termed as an escape mutation as it helps the virus slip past the body’s immune response; N440K is associated with greater binding affinity with human receptors and linked with faster transmission capability.”

“At the moment, it seems the symptoms of the new strains are the same as the earlier one,” he said.

“Apart from cough and fever, other symptoms that are reported in persons affected by the new strains include fatigue, muscle pain, headache, loss of appetite, diarrhea and mental confusion.”

“The new variants spread through the same old ways. They spread between people through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks,” said Dr Nisar.

“This means that wearing a mask, following hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance remain the principal ways to avoid getting infection from the new variants.”

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COVID-19 affects youngsters badly, situation alarming: Dr Saleem Khan

(Asian News Hub) – Dr Saleem Khan, Nodal Officer for COVID-19 and HoD Social and Preventive Medicine, GMC Srinagar, Monday said the situation has turned alarming as the younger generation has been badly affected by COVID-19 in Kashmir.

Dr Khan said Jammu and Kashmir woud become Delhi in case people do not follow SOPs like wearing face masks, avoid social gatherings and maintain distance in letter and spirit.

He said viruses can never be stable as they keep on changing and might turn aggressive sometimes and sometimes become less effective.

DR Saleem said new strains of COVID-19 circulating in India are aggressive and virulent and increase its transmission manifold. He also claimed that the situation has turned alarming to the extent; COVID-19 has affected the young generation badly.

“It’s unfortunate that our young generation is worst hit by COVID-19. We seriously need to implement SOPs as the situation cannot be taken for granted. Its effect was very causal last year but the general population got badly affected this year,” Dr Saleem told the media.

He also warned people to be cautious and follow COVID-19 guidelines in letter and spirit so as to save themselves from falling prey to deadly virus.

He also advised people to get themselves vaccinated, COVID-19 cannot be taken lightly give its aggressive behavior since its outbreak in 2019.

KNO

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High time to take all precautions, we shouldn’t allow situation go out of control: Dr Naveed Nazir

Says over 100 beds available with oxygen facility at CD hospital almost full, have ventilators as backup, one more oxygen plant coming up this month; Covid vaccine prevents severity among patients

(Asian News Hub) – Kashmir’s top medico and the frontline Covid warrior Dr Naveed Nazir Monday said that it’s high time for the people to take all precautions to prevent the spread of Covid=19 pandemic and that the situation shouldn’t be allowed to go out of control.

Head of Department at Chest Diseases Hospital Dalgate, Srinagar, Dr Naveed said that the situation shouldn’t be allowed to go out of control and people should take all precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We had been stating that Covid is here and it has not gone away. One thing that needs to be hailed is that people have started following SoPs. There is hardly anyone who doesn’t wear a mask. This is a good sign,” he said, adding that “we must strictly follow SoPs and contain the situation.”

About the present position at CD hospital, one of the premier hospitals dealing with the Covid positive patients, Dr Naveed said that there are over 100 beds available for the virus affected patients and almost there is 90 per cent occupancy. “We are not admitting patients with mild symptoms and they are asked to go for home isolation. At present all our beds are almost full. We have oxygen facility at all the beds and have ventilators as a backup as well. We also have 50 more beds available as a backup at a nursing home,” the leading medico said. He said that all the cases admitted at CD hospital are severe cases who need oxygen and injectable.

Dr Naveed was speaking after attending a meeting convened by the SMC Mayor Junaid Matoo to take stock of the preparations to deal with the situation that has arisen after a huge spike in Covid positive cases in Kashmir. Over 1500 positive cases were reported in J&K UT on Sunday, highest in the past six months. He said that there is no shortage of oxygen in Srinagar and one more oxygen plant is coming up in the city this month.

Dr Naveed, who is a frontline Covid warrior, said that SMHS and other hospitals have also been designated as Covid hospitals “but people shouldn’t allow the situation to go out of control and stick to Covid protocols strictly.”

About the Covid vaccine, he said that there are some cases who have tested positive even after taking the Covid vaccine, but that is obvious as the vaccine takes at least three weeks to adjust in the body. “Its efficacy too isn’t 100 percent but it has surely helped to prevent the severity in the patients who test positive, which is significant. People must take Covid vaccines as it helps to prevent mortality,” he said.

KNO

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AstraZeneca could have COVID-19 vaccine against variant by end of 2021

(Asian News Hub) – A modified version of AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine tailored to combat a coronavirus variant first documented in South Africa could be ready by the end of 2021, an AstraZeneca official in Austria said in an interview published on Sunday.

Sarah Walters, AstraZeneca’s Austria country manager, told the Kurier newspaper that studies, so far, indicating the existing AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against the more infectious variant first documented in South Africa were “too small to draw final conclusions”.

“In the meantime, AstraZeneca and Oxford University have started on modifications to the vaccine for the South African variant and we expect it will be ready by the end of the year, should it be needed,” Walters told the Kurier.

Walters blamed challenges – including delivery delays for the AstraZeneca shot in the European Union – on the “complex process” of producing a vaccine, coupled with the extremely high demand arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had to work without keeping a supply in reserve. As a result, we couldn’t make up for unexpected events,” she said. “We are confident that we will fulfill our commitment to deliver 300 million doses to the European Union this year.”

The Kurier interview did not directly address ongoing investigations into health concerns over the AstraZeneca shot. The EU has put a warning label on the vaccine over its possible linkage to extremely rare blood clots, Denmark has completely halted use of the vaccine and Britain has advised people under 30 to get another brand of vaccine.

Asked about “thousands” of people in Austria who are cancelling their appointments for AstraZeneca shots, Walters said the company’s plan was “to continue to transparently provide information about efficacy and safety to doctors, so that they can adequately inform people” of benefits and risks.

British and European Union medicine regulators have said that the overall benefits of using the vaccine outweigh any risks of rare clotting.

Reuters

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