Changes in global land usage like forest fragmentation, agricultural expansion, and concentrated livestock production are creating hotspots favourable for bats carrying coronaviruses, found a study. Parts of Indochina, Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand may transition into hotspots. The new study used remote sensing to analyse land-use patterns throughout the horseshoe bat’s range, which extends from Western Europe through Southeast Asia.
What are the Eﬀects of new hotspots on India?
In a worsening second surge, India reported more than 100,000 new cases for the first time during the pandemic, yesterday. These are the statistical figures that only Brazil and the United States have recorded previously. Health officials suspect that a combination of factors is fuelling the soaring case numbers: behaviour changes, waning immunity from earlier infections, and the spread of new variants.
The state of Maharashtra in the western part of the country is the hardest-hit area, constituting roughly half of the new cases.
State officials tightened the restrictions by recessing the malls, gyms, movie theatres, restaurants, and churches, according to The Post. Officials also ordered a weekend-long lockdown along with a night curfew. Like other countries, India is racing to vaccinate its population and has delivered the third-highest number of vaccines, behind the United States and China, according to reports. The government is looking at ways to increase the country’s vaccine output and has recently slowed exports to other countries.
Why are horseshoe bats known to carry a variety of coronaviruses?
Horseshoe bats are a generalist species and have often been observed in areas characterised by human disturbance. They are also linked with forest fragmentation and habitat destruction in Africa to outbreaks of the Ebola virus. Horseshoe bats are known to carry a variety of coronaviruses, including strains that are genetically similar to ones that cause COVID-19 and Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The latest study used remote sensing to analyze land-use patterns throughout the horseshoe bat’s range, which extends from Western Europe through Southeast Asia. By identifying areas of forest fragmentation, human settlement, and agricultural and livestock production, and comparing these to known horseshoe bat habitats, they identified potential hot spots where habitat is favourable for these bat species.
The analysis also identified locations that could easily become hot spots with changes in land use.
Where is the current hotspot clustered?
Most of the current hot spots are clustered in China, where a growing interest in meat products has driven the expansion of large-scale, industrial livestock farming. Concentrated livestock production is particularly concerning because the practice brings together large populations of genetically similar, often immune-suppressed animals that are highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks, the researchers said.
What the analysis aimed at?
It helped to identify the possible emergence of new hot spots in response to an increase in one of three land-use attributes. Furthermore, it highlighted both the areas that could become suitable for spillover and the type of land-use change that could induce hot spot activation. These results could be useful for identifying region-specific targeted interventions needed to increase resilience to coronavirus spillovers.
Rising cases of Myocarditis in India
More than a year into the pandemic, the human heart seems to be at the receiving end in a significant number of Covid-19 patients. In several instances, the patients who recovered from Covid-19 infection after a short hospital stay dropped dead suddenly at their homes. In other instances, the patients with no cardiac ailment history turn up with severe chest pain or a drop in heart rate. Indian patients are more vulnerable to myocarditis and heart failure. It is important to check the chances of heart attack due to hyper-clotting. This brings us to the question, what is Myocarditis and is it more prevalent?
What is Myocarditis?
Myocarditis is a disease identified by the inflammation of the heart muscle known as the myocardium — the muscular layer of the heart wall. This muscle is responsible for contracting and relaxing to pump blood in and out of the heart and to the rest of the body. When this muscle becomes inflamed, its capability to pump blood becomes inefficient. This causes problems like an abnormal heartbeat, chest pain, or trouble breathing. In critical cases, it can cause blood clots leading to a heart attack or stroke, damage to the heart causing heart failure, or death.
How dangerous is Myocarditis?
Severe myocarditis can permanently damage your heart muscle, probably causing:
- Heart attack or stroke – If your heart’s muscle is damaged and can’t pump blood; the blood that circulates in your heart can form clots. If a clot blocks one of your heart’s arteries, you can have a heart attack.
- You can have a stroke from a blood clot in your heart moving towards an artery that may
eventually lodge into your brain.
- Heart failure – Untreated, myocarditis damages your heart’s muscle to an extent that it can’t pump blood effectively. In critical cases, myocarditis-related heart failure may need a ventricular assist device or a heart transplant.
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) – Damage to your heart muscle causes
- Sudden cardiac death- Serious arrhythmias can cause your heart to stop beating (sudden cardiac arrest). It can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.
What are the symptoms of myocarditis?
Myocarditis can be very mild and may not display any notable symptoms. The most prevalent symptom of myocarditis is pain in the chest. Other symptoms are associated with the underlying triggering cause, like infection or an autoimmune disorder. The symptoms or signs of myocarditis are chest pain, shortness of breath, swelling, and abnormal heartbeats.
How to diagnose Myocarditis?
If you have myocarditis, consult a doctor who will treat it, if possible. They’ll also try to take the extra load off your heart, if needed, and take steps to restrict or control complications. You may be hospitalised if you have complications, like a blood clot or weakened heart. If irregular heartbeats are severe, you may need other medications, a pacemaker, or an implantable cardioverter- defibrillator (ICD).
Myocarditis is not common but can be a severe complication of an infectious disease. It should be considered as a diagnosis in patients presenting with chest pain and elevated cardiac enzymes in the absence of coronary disease. In some cases, Myocarditis can also lead to cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure.
India eases norms for clearing foreign-made COVID-19
India’s top drug regulator waived the need for foreign companies to conduct post-launch bridging trials. It also applies to testing the quality and stability of their Covid-19 vaccines here if they have approvals from specific countries or health bodies.
The move, which would make it easier for companies to bring their vaccines to India, follows similar demands raised by, among others, Pfizer and Cipla during meetings to supply imported vaccines to the country.
Why did DCGI relax?
The government allowed the import of yet-to-be authorised covid vaccines as India is suffering from an acute shortage of vaccines. Both Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech International are trying to quickly scale up production of Covishield and Covaxin, respectively, to meet the domestic demand. The government escalated its attempt to increase the availability of vaccines.
This idea prevailed by allowing the private and non-central government entities to import vaccines that are not cleared for mass vaccinations yet.
What do Pfizer and Cipla want?
Pfizer stated that it wants relaxation on the requirement for a post-approval bridging trial for its vaccine, developed with BioNTech, and testing of these vaccines at CDL Kasauli. Cipla, which is looking forward to committing $1 billion into bringing Moderna’s single-dose mRNA booster vaccine to India, has also demanded an exemption from bridging trials. This would mean that the state governments and private entities can now import vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson, who do not have emergency use licenses in India.
Companies and state governments need not follow these processes if the vaccine is already authorized by the Drugs Controller General of India or DCGI. Any entity, including private companies, can get it from the importer under the government’s updated guidelines for vaccine procurement. The government on 19th April opened up the vaccination drive to all the adults.
Beginning 1st May, the state governments and private companies directly procured vaccines from foreign companies. After five days the government allowed fast-track permissions of vaccines.
These have already been cleared by one of four drug regulators in the US, the United Kingdom, the
European Union, and Japan, or the World Health Organization.
If the vaccines are supplied to India post-authorisation, then 50% of the vaccines being cleared at the Central Drugs Laboratory at Kasauli will be reserved for the Centre. The remaining vaccines can be procured by state governments and private entities. This decision had been taken in the wake of India’s second wave of COVID-19 which spiralled out of control. This phenomenon generated the demand for vaccines that local manufacturers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech could not meet.