Webinar on COVID 19 - Stark Realities and Ramifications

Summary of the Talk: COVID 19 pandemic caused by novel Coronavirus named SARS CoV-2 is the greatest existential crisis faced by the mankind since world war II. It is also reminiscing of origin and virulence of deadly Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19. Acute viral infection affecting 4.4 million people across the world and about 78000 people at home has pushed back all other health, economic & development agenda. But adversity also reveals the genius. The best in science, multilateral relationship, governance, and human behaviour is emerging to tackle the crisis and revamp the global human family. The webinar is also a kind of holistic approach to enhance the awareness on the subject and to explore every individual and nation’s role at this crucial moment. The talk commenced with basic microbiology of bacteria & virus, commonalities in symptoms and transmission and modalities of treatment of bacterial infections by antibiotics and that of viral infections by vaccines and antiviral drugs. The human coronaviruses identified in mid 1060s are of seven types and three of them have caused epidemics of respiratory distress in humans in 21st century- SARS-CoV in 2003, MERS-CoV in 2012 & SARS-CoV-2 in 2020. The structure of CoV including constituent proteins E-M-N-S and genome structure were discussed that would serve as targets for drug & vaccine design. Transmission of Coronavirus and its molecular basis was explained with importance of aerosolization and social distancing. The sequence of genome of SARS CoV-2 was discussed and it has been largely held by scientists that virus has evolved and originated through natural process. The molecular basis of transmission through ACE 2 receptors was discussed and surge of pro-inflammatory cytokines was explained as main cause of lung damage. Contrary to earlier findings, Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre has found 9 mutants and held that it is a fast mutating virus. It is presently working on genome sequencing of 100 corona positive samples to aid in vaccine development. The pandemic has shown interconnectedness of world in many ways. It also underlines importance of multilateral institutions like WTO, WTO on one hand and Self-reliance on other hand. The role played by China and WHO in combating the crisis was discussed. In the absence of approved vaccine and medicines, isolation and containment top the agenda of the world. Clinical presentation of disease was discussed with worsening of cardiac and diabetic conditions and threats of re-emergence were touched upon. The importance and methods of hand hygiene were discussed for prevention of infection. Different effective measures for hand hygiene like soap and water, alcohol based hand sanitizers, antiseptic hand washes etc were discussed with their mechanisms of inactivation for corona and other types of virus particles. The principles and details of RT- PCR test were explained. This is the only authentic test used for confirming presence of virus from day 1 to 28 days of infection. The scope and limitations of serum antibodies tests based on IgM & IgG were discussed at length. ELISA test kit developed by NIV & ICMR and transfer of technology to Zydus Cadila for commercial manufacturing was described as silver lining that will enable surveillance in the country. Three-fold approaches to tackle COVID 19 were discussed in detail. In the first approach, current status of treatment through vaccination for COVID19 infection elaborated. In second approach, WHO’s randomised trials called solidarity trials with several repurposed drugs such as Remdesivir, Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir with Ritonavir were discussed. In the third approach, various COVID 19 Therapeutic options which are under trail and development were covered like antivirals, immunomodulators, host directed therapies of antibodies and convalescent plasma therapy. Safety considerations with best practices with respect to materials, infrastructure and employee while working in COVID times and beyond were elaborated. Physiological disturbances due to excessive stress conditions were scientifically explained and correlated with role of Yoga like Surya Namaskar, Pranayama & Meditation in effective management of the stress conditions and improving health & wellness. At last, innate lessons for science and humanity were pondered. In the last part of the webinar, Dr. Dave has scientifically and thoroughly addressed the questions of the participants.
S K Patel College of Pharmaceutical Education & Research, Ganpat University
Thursday, May 14, 2020
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