Welcome to December 2020 aka the tenth month of co-existing with COVID-19. While we have been dealing well with the virus, as shown by our falling cases and death rate, we still have a long way to go. We don’t want a second wave and be under strict lockdown all over again. However, many people have stopped caring about the coronavirus and this is problematic. To answer some pressing questions and bust myths about COVID-19, we invited Dr. Lancelot Pinto, Consultant Pulmonologist at PD Hinduja Hospital, Dr. Nikita Mehra, Medical Oncologist and COVID-19 survivor and Dr. Raashi Khatri Panjabi, MD, Pain Management, Headaches and TMJ Disorders for our #RealTalk webinar.

We hope this helps shed some light and much-needed information (that we are conveniently ignoring) on COVID-19.

Here are 8 questions on COVID-19, answered:

1. Does Covid-19 Affect The Heart?

Dr. Pinto says,

Postmortem studies of those who died due to COVID-19 are showing the presence of a lot of clots in their arteries and veins. This is because of an immune dis-regulation. Clotting is a healing mechanism designed to help the body fight infections, but if it goes dis-regulated it can have damaging effects on the heart.

Dr. Mehra says,

When I had COVID-19, I was suffering from rapid heartbeats which became palpitations. This goes to prove the effects of the virus on the heart, which also show on echo-cardiograms as abnormalities.

All the doctors also added that this does not exempt people who are on blood thinners, as the clots occur in the veins and blood thinners only prevent arterial clotting. To prevent venous clotting and then having those clots travel to the heart and lungs, early detection is vital.

2. How Do I Get Tested Properly?

Dr. Pinto shed a lot of light on getting tested properly. He said that it was vital to get both the nose and throat swabbed, as doing only the throat will detect only 7/10 cases. He also advised getting two tests done to confirm the results. However, if one is getting a Rapid Antigen Test (which is extremely sensitive to the virus), the results will be highly accurate, eliminating the need for a second test.

3. Are Gloves Effective?

Ah, the age-old conundrum on the efficacy of gloves returns. Are they effective or not? Dr. Pinto says,

If you’re going to wear one pair of gloves throughout, that’s as good as contaminating your hands. As doctors, we change our gloves after one patient. We cannot wear and wash the same gloves over and over again.

Dr. Mehra says,

Instead of wearing gloves, simply wash your hands with soap and water. It is easier and effective

So, if you are going berserk wearing gloves while going about your daily chores, stop! Ditch them and disinfect your hands regularly instead.

4. Does Over-Sanitizing Cause Medical Issues?

Dr. Pinto says,

This stems from the Hygiene Hypothesis which states that dirt has a role to play in moving you away from allergies. Excess hand-washing can lead to fungal infections, hence going overboard with it isn’t good. And the same applies to sanitizing as well.

Dr. Mehra further added to this by saying that over-sanitizing and even over-paranoia isn’t healthy. If one is at home the entire day, they do not need to keep sanitizing their hands over and over again. Soap and water is enough and one does not need to douse themselves in sanitizer.

5. Can I Go For A Run Mask-less?

While running is a low-risk activity, both the doctors agreed that the Indian population and crowded streets make it high-risk. Dr. Pinto says,

If you are choosing to run, run in an open area which allows you to steer clear of other people and crowds, or else it is definitely a high-risk activity.

6. Can I Meet My Friends In A Small Group?

Dr. Pinto believes in the “3C’s of COVID-19 Prevention”, which states avoiding closed spaces, contact and crowds, and meeting a group of friends violates all of them. He says,

Try to meet your friends on open terraces and spaces. Practice social distancing and wear masks. However, since this violates the ‘3C’s’ it is a high-risk event and hence avoidable.

Dr. Mehra adds,

Indoor transmission is higher than outdoor transmission, so being masked appropriately is very important.

7. Am I Immune To COVID-19 Once I Recover From It?

Dr. Pinto says,

Until now, re-infection is a rare event. However, it has only been 8 months since the virus came and based on this period, its a rare event. But will it be a rare event in 12 months? We cannot say. Antibodies vain with time and cell mediated immunity usually steps in, but, with respect to COVID-19, we aren’t sure about this yet. However, just because you have recovered from the virus, you don’t get a license to walk around without a mask and be irresponsible. Maintain precautions at all times.

8. Will Life Go Back To Normal Once The Vaccine Comes Out?

Dr. Pinto said that while the vaccine has been developed at an accelerated pace, it will not be easy to get universal vaccination and coverage. That will take time. All the results are lab measures and we need long-range data to be fully sure of the vaccine’s efficacy and side-effects. However, both doctors seemed to be hopeful of a positive outcome.

The battle with coronavirus is not yet over, and we need to be more careful than ever to not relapse into a second (more deadly) wave. So please be safe, socially distanced and masked!

What are your views on the future of COVID-19 in India? Share it with us in the comments below.

You can watch the entire webinar here.

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