Kerala gets nod for trial of plasma therapy
Kerala has gone a step ahead in exploring available treatment options for COVID-19 by winning the approval of Indian Council of Medical Research to explore the feasibility of administering convalescent plasma transfusion on critically ill patients.
- Convalescent plasma therapy is not new and has been used by doctors to treat critically ill patients during earlier epidemics like H1N1, SARS and Ebola.
- It may be noted that plasma from the blood of previously infected yet healthy individuals had been transferred to five critically ill patients in China and their condition had steadily improved and were subsequently discharged from hospitals.
What is ‘convalescent plasma’?
Convalescent plasma therapy involves transfusing certain components from the blood of people who have recovered from a virus attack into people who are very sick with the virus or people who are at high risk of getting the virus.
How does it work?
- As people fight the virus, they produce antibodies that attack it. Those antibodies, proteins that are secreted by immune cells known as B lymphocytes, are found in plasma or the liquid part of blood that helps the blood to clot and supports immunity.
- Once a person recovers, that person has developed antibodies that will stay in their blood waiting to fight the same virus. Those antibodies, when injected into another person with the disease, recognise the virus as something to attack.
- In the case of coronavirus disease, scientists say antibodies attack the spikes on the outside of the virus, blocking the virus from penetrating human cells.
The Delhi Government will carry out ‘Operation SHIELD’ at 21 locations identified as containment zones in the capital.
About ‘Operation SHIELD’ –
- The operation involves sealing, identifying and quarantining people, doorstep delivery of essential items and door-to-door checking of people.
- S stands for Sealing of the immediate area after geographical marking, H is for Home quarantine of all in the area, I is for Isolation and tracking of people who have been first and second contacts, E is for Essential supplies delivered at the doorstep, L is for Local sanitisation and disinfection and D is for Door-to-door checking, so that people having symptoms of novel coronavirus infection are isolated, and testing can be done after taking samples.
Ahmedabad adopts South Korean model
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has adopted the South Korean model of aggressive testing to ascertain the scale of the pandemic.
What is ‘South Korean model’?
- Instead of taking the Chinese approach of locking down affected cities, South Korea has embraced a model of open information, public participation and widespread testing.
- Each confirmed coronavirus patient’s contacts are traced and offered tests. The infected person’s movements over the preceding 14 days — determined through credit card use, CCTV footage and mobile phone tracking — are also posted on government websites, with text message alerts sent to people when a new infection emerges in the area where they live or work. The tactic has raised privacy concerns, but enables people to come forward for checks.
- Testing fees are around 160,000 won (USD 134), but free for suspected patients — people linked to confirmed cases — or those who test positive, encouraging participation. That helps with early detection and tackling the spread of infection.
- South Korea has conducted more diagnostic tests faster than any other country — around 10,000 per day — which specialists say has helped the country with early detection of patients and tackling the infection’s epicentre.
No lockdown –
South Korea did not impose lockdown in the country as in other countries. Authorities have urged people to stay indoors, avoid meetings and minimise contact with others, in a so-called “social distancing” campaign, resulting in quiet streets and half-empty stores and restaurants, even in normally busy parts of Seoul.
BEL, AIIMS develop remote monitor
A remote patient health monitoring system that can be installed at homes or hospitals promises to spare healthcare workers the risk of exposure to COVID-19, while attending to persons undergoing isolation either for suspected infection or as precautionary quarantine.
- Jointly developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd. and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh, the system reduces the need for scarce personal protective gear.
- The solution aims to significantly reduce the risk of exposure to infection for healthcare workers.
- It is also expected to reduce the increasing demand of PPE [personal protective equipment] and logistics.
- The device has non-invasive sensors to measure the main parameters of a person who may be a COVID-19 patient: temperature, pulse rate, SPO2 or saturated oxygen level, and respiration rate.
How it works?
- Patient health parameters, along with patient location, are uploaded to a centralised command & control centre on cloud using either the patient’s mobile phone or integral GSM SIM card.
- The use of cloud will facilitate seamless scaling of the database of COVID-19 suspects/patients.
- When the monitored parameters exceed preset thresholds, the software would send out alerts to the medical officer.
‘Gamosa’ evolves from memento to mask in Assam
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the ubiquitous gamosa, a decorative cotton towel, evolve from memento to mask.
Brief History –
- Cultural historians say the gamosa came to symbolise Assamese nationalism in 1916 when the Asom Chatra Sanmilan, a students’ organisation was formed, followed by the Assam Sahitya Sabha, a literary body. Wearing the phulam gamosa around the neck became a standard for cultural identity.
- The graph as a symbol of protest rose during the anti-foreigners Assam Agitation from 1979 to 1985.
- The extremist United Liberation Front of Asom too used the towel with “revolutionary” motifs. The Gamosa staged a comeback as a political statement with the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act from mid-December 2019.
About gamosas –
- The Gamosa is an article of great significance for the people of Assam. It is generally a white rectangular piece of cloth with primarily a red border on three sides and red woven motifs on the fourth.
- The gamosa is essentially made up of two words—‘ga’ which means body and ‘mosa’ which means to wipe.
Types of Gamosas –
- Pani gamosa: ‘Pani’ gamosas are made from coarse cotton and perfect for wiping off water or sweat from the body. They are often used by farmers while they work in fields.
- Tamul gamosa: Tamul is the Assamese word for betel nut, which is served along with paan to guests when they visit an Assamese household. The paan and Tamul are served on the gamosa which is placed on the xorai, an Assamese stand tray made from bell metal.
- Bihuwan or the Phulam gamosa: This gamosa is given to guests as a sign of respect during the Bihu festival.
- Anakata gamosa: The fourth type of gamosa is used during ceremonies and occasions of importance in one’s life like a marriage of a birthday. The fascinating trait of this type of gamosa is that it is taken out of the tatxal (handloom) without being cut. Here, the threads of gamosa signify the bonds in one’s life which should not be broken; hence, this type of gamosa is not cut when the process of weaving is complete.
ICCR celebrates 70th foundation day
Indian Council for Cultural Relations has recently celebrated its 70th Foundation Day on April 9th.
- ICCR was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Independent India’s first Education Minister.
- It is an autonomous organisation.
- ICCR has been assigned the responsibility of facilitating the celebration of the International Day of Yoga by Indian Missions/Posts abroad since 2015.
To actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs pertaining to India’s external cultural relations.To foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people, and to develop relations with nations.
Important awards by ICCR –
- Distinguished Indologist Award
- World Sanskrit Award
- Gisela Bonn Award
- Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding