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Home > 2022 > “Duende Thoughts” — Real, Reel and Literature – A Mere Coincidence? or A (...)

Mainstream, VOL LX No 23, New Delhi, May 28, 2022

“Duende Thoughts” — Real, Reel and Literature – A Mere Coincidence? or A Beautiful Scientific Prophecy | A. K. Sinha

Friday 27 May 2022

by Dr. A. K. Sinha *

Covid 19 is a pandemic known to each and every individual of the globe today in all its unforeseen dimensions, severity and catastrophic casualties, which is unparallel in the history of mankind. COVID 19 stands for—Co-Corona, Vi-Virus, D-Disease-2019, though, more scientifically, it is called as SARS-C0 V—2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus-2) —both names given by WHO on 11 February, 2020. By then (11th February, 2020), globally, more than 1,18,000 cases with 4291 deaths had been reported from 114 countries spread all over the world. What happened since then, is history. It has created huge havoc for whole humanity affecting all aspects of human existence and its survival. Everybody, irrespective of his whereabout, continent, nationality, religion or any other human distinction, is today fully aware of its great catastrophic consequences and havocs. Nobody could have imagined the magnitude and dimension of Covid 19’s devastating effect on the life of an individual, society, states, countries, continents and the World as a whole. In fact, even today, we are astonished, bewildered and mesmerized by sequence of events unfolded by COVID 19 in last 2. years. Medically, too, we are still far from understanding the disease in all its totalities, dimensions and curiosities While sequencing the events unfolded by COVID 19, First (Index ) case was reported by China to WHO on 31 December, 2019—last day of 2019, when the world was giving farewell to 2019 and preparing to give enthusiastic welcome to incoming 2020-fully unaware of devastation to be caused by a tiny and microscopic organism in 2020 & 2021. China said that its people in the city of WUHAN are suffering from Pneumonia of unknown aetiology (cause of Pneumonia not known), though it means that the disease must have been infecting the people of China for some time-which was neither reported nor acknowledged. On 7th January, 2020, China confirmed that cause of Wuhan’s Pneumonia has been found. It was caused by a novel (new) corona virus. They called it— 2019 n CORONA. On 30th. January, 2020, Director General, W.H.O. declared that the outbreak, caused by a Virus (corona) from Wuhan, was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. (PHEIC)—WHO’s highest level of alarm, though, at that time, there were only 98 cases globally with no deaths affecting 18 countries outside China. On 11th February 2020, WHO named the virus as COVID 19 & SARS-COV-2 as stated above. Finally, WHO declared COVID 19 as a Pandemic on 11th March, 2020. — A term, which denotes an infectious disease affecting large no. of people spread to multiple continents of the world at the same time.

Corona Virus is a common virus, which is found in the nature, mostly among animals like Bats, Pangolins, Civets etc. and humans. There are seven Corona viruses, which infect human beings. Four of them are relatively benign and produce milder disease among healthy individuals. In fact, they are responsible for one third (1/3) of common cold cases among all of us. Quite often, they infect human beings and produce Flu like symptoms like Cold, Sore Throat, Cough and Fever. Sometimes, the Virus causes severe Pneumonia, especially among immune compromised people, culminating in Respiratory Failure and subsequently, resulting in Multiple Organ Failure with a high mortality 0ther three Corona viruses are different from above common corona virus. They are novel (new) but relatively malignant. All of them have infected human beings at different times with different severity and variable magnitude at different places in the world. They are SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV AND the most recent-COVID 19-the last being the most scientifically searched, meticulously analysed and endlessly tried to get a clue to get either a cure or control the disease. SARS-COV was detected in 2002-3 in China (Guangdong province) and spread to many countries e.g. Middle east, Africa, Asia, Korea, U.S. etc. More than 8096 people suffered from SARS COV with 800 deaths. The global scientific response to SARS COV was phenomenal-within weeks, the Virus was identified as a causative agent, diagnostic tests were developed and entire genome of the virus was sequenced. Interestingly, these data about epidemiology, pathogenesis, pathology, genetic constitution etc with science, proved highly fruitful, while fighting the greatest war ever against COVID 19 pandemic recently. Reservoir of SARS COV was supposed to be the BAT but it passed to humans by some unknown intermediate animal MERS had similar respiratory symptoms in like SARS but was different in the sense that it was a zoonotic disease was spread from CAMEL, most of the cases were asymptomatic but those symptomatic and MERS (+)ve. had a very high mortality rate =35% (More than 2500 cases were reported with 900 deaths from 27 countries-80% from Saudi Arabia). Major source of infection were dromedary CAMEL and MERS (+) patients. Transmission of Virus from one person to other was not easy unless close contact with Camel or unprotected care of MERS (+)ve patient. Camel served as reservoir of virus, though it came from Bat in the distant past. In comparison to above, OVID 19 proved to be much bigger evil than thought with widespread ramification, devastation and catastrophize and every human activity, throughout the world, has been left bewildered, shattered and almost comatose beyond anybody’s imagination However, the amount of effort and cooperation in various walks of life from all the people of the globe seen has been unparallel in the human history. But, imagination in future, that too in a nature’s field like medicine, has never been seen before. This is what will be discussed here. Such a difficult terrain but how much true— is unimaginable. Dr. Robin Cook, is a physician by profession (M.D.). However, he established himself as a novelist writing medical thrillers. His first novel COMA, picturized too, established him on literary horizon. Furthermore, by its depiction on celluloid by the same name Contagion, he established himself as a great writer. The movie was released in 2011 with wide acclaim and decent box office collection. Nobody could think that humanity is going to face Contagion like situation in near future. It is interesting to note similarities between real - COVID19 and reel Contagion — quite puzzling but factfully true.

Reel Contagion starts with Coughs and bad cough. Imagine, what would have happened, if somebody would have coughed in public place at peak of CIVID 19 pandemic. Story goes that a business woman comes from Hongkong, developed serious respiratory problem after return to U.S., had seizure and got hospitalised, where she died. But she started a chain reaction of viral infection, which ultimately culminates in a pandemic affecting billion of people and resulting in millions of loss of life. Her close contact, her son, too, dies immediately thereafter. Nobody knows, what is happening like COVID 19 in initial days except that it was an unknown Viral disease—which is highly contagious and transmits from one person to another by a touch-you receive and transfer the virus by a mere touch. The people got locked in their houses to avoid contact with virus and thus, block its transmission. It made cities deserted, towns ghost of their past and places bubbling with crowd in the past became desolate. Afterwards, fear psychosis develops in the society. People got scared and social unrest was precipitated. Panic buying, widespread looting and uncontrolled violence became the order of the day.

Even, her husband is isolated and her step daughter is quarantined all are quite familiar with these terms now, courtesy COVID 19. All these are reminiscent of lockdowns imposed for COVID 19 by the authorities all over the world in the recent past. Initially, nobody realised the gravity of the situation for Contagion like COVID 19.It was a herculean task for the people at the helms of affairs-first, the causative agent in question was to be found, to be confirmed and its qualities to be ascertained. Finally, science has to find either any cure for the disease or an effective Vaccine against the disease. Vaccine acts in two ways—it will protect the people from getting infection and will block further transmission of the disease-both will ultimately cut the chain reaction of transmission and save the humanity from cruel jaws of the pandemic. The institution in global actions are the same for both-W.H.O. and C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control), Atlanta.

Vaccine search was quite interesting in Contagion. Initially, scientists were not able to find a cell culture to grow M.E.V.-1. virus. Authorities believed that new Virus is highly virulent and hence, avoiding a spread risk, was ordered to focus research at one site and destroy the virus at other sites. However, one scientist persists with his virus thinking he was near a breakthrough. He really identified a viable cell culture breaking the ice. It proved to be a great milestone achievement. Scientist of C.D.C. develop a new vaccine from virus grown through above culture-proved a great hope to combat the pandemic. Scientists, further, determined the nature of virus-it was spread by respiratory droplet and fomites with R0 OF 4 for mutated virus. It projected that reel Contagion will infect 1 out of every 12 people of the world population with a high mortality rate of 25-30 %. In comparison, real COVID 19 pandemic statistics (15 May, 2022) is — Globally, Total 52.1011 Crores people infected, 62.87995 Lacs deaths, Total Recovery 47.5411 Crores. Mortality rate - 1.23%. India reported (15/05/2022) – Total - 4.3121 Crores infected, 4.2579 crores Recovery & 5.2421 Lacs deaths i.e. Mortality rate — 1.21%. WHO has recently come out with data, which suggest that COVID-19 related death were grossly under reported all over the world. It estimated that around 15 million people died globally due to COVID-19 as compared to 5.4 million reported to WHO. Similar findings of COVID-19 deaths were reported in various medical journals as well. India has been acknowledged to have the maximum deaths of 4.7 million in 2020-2021-roughly 10 times the official figure — though it includes some death indirectly due to COVID-19 — and has been denied by India’s Ministry of Health.

It is acknowledged that COVID 19 is transmitted by Respiratory droplet, sometimes aerosols and contacts. In Atlanta, people from home security, meet C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control) for a review of the situation. There was a speculation that it was a bio weapon—So, similar with COVD 19, where a substantial group of people still believe that COVID 19 was a misfire and jump from Virology lab, while preparing for a bioweapon. Immediately, an Epidemiologist, is sent for investigation in Contagion. She traces it to be the result of contact, and not a bioweapon as thought. All infected people were in contact with the original lady, who visited Hongkong. Unfortunately, epidemiologist, too got infected with Virus and succumbed to it. COVID 19 too, has similarities with Contagion. A doctor in China, first observed that a new (novel) disease is spreading there with dire consequences and warned his colleagues in late 2019. But he was charged and tortured for spreading rumors and fear psychosis. Later, he joined his hospital to get infected and died due to COVID 19. Subsequently though, he was absolved of all these charges but not before his death. COVID 19 has been cruel to medical professionals-one has seen death of a lot of doctors and supporting health professionals, specially, in India, which has never been seen before. A great price has already been paid to the pandemic COVID 19. Origin of these epidemics have always been a matter of great interest. Every time, such events happen, speculation of Bio Weapon is always in the air — it happened with both - Contagion and COVID 19. In Contagion, it was nick in the bud because its origin was traced to Bats but it didn’t happen with COVID 19 - the speculation will continue till we get a definite answer to its origin. A jump from experiments to man by accident is still in the air and will not die soon. Contagion traces the origin of pandemic to bats. Due to human activity, a bulldozer destroys habitat of bats. A bat, harboring virus, gets shelter in a piggery. I t eats one banana and drops half eaten banana harboring virus, which is eaten by a pig. The pig, too, was harboring another virus, which changed their genetic material with bat virus and produced a mutated deadly virus. The pig was slaughtered for a dish in the hotel at Hongkong. The chef got infected by putting his bare hands in pigs’ mouth, which was transmitted to the American woman since, she shook her hands with chef’s unprotected hand. She not only gets Contagion herself but started transmitting virus to others, who came in her contact. Unfortunately, a chain reaction was created in U.S.A. from one to others, ultimately culminating in a great pandemic. Interestingly, before COVID 19, When Bird flu was quite common, it was speculated that if poultry man, who suffers from common cold, gets infected with Bird flu virus as well because of close proximity within chicken-the two may meet and cross their genetic material with each other (since both were Influenza virus) and thus, may produce a catastrophic mutated new virus in future. All these viruses, discussed above, are Influenza virus in Contagion, it was called MEV-1, while COVID 19 is a CORONA virus. Bizarre things have been observed in both in - Contagion and COVID 19. A gentleman claimed that he has cured himself of Contagion by taking a homeopathic drug from Forsythia. As usual, people throng pharmacies all over, But, ultimately, it was found to be fake and person involved was arrested for conspiracy and security fraud. In COVID 19, too, non-prescribed suggestions had a field day. In the present world of Internet, all sorts of knowledge, suggestions and therapy has been propagated, consumed and established with futile response- unfortunately, causality has been the scientific truth, though it has created a lot of wealth for many. COVID 19 has also seen prescription of homeopathic drugs and Immunoboosters for prophylaxis and treatment of COVID 19 like Contagion.

For a change, two contrast after effects of COVID 19 has been observed — A positive effect - The nature reports that another virus Influenza - used to kill 2.9 to 6.5 lacs people in a year before COVID 19 globally. However, hardly any patient died in the year 2020 & 2021 due to Influenza in spite of larger no. of people being subjected to testing. Contrarily International Institute for population studies, Mumbai reported a fall in average life span of Indians i.e. 67.5 and 69.8 years for males and females respectively in 2020 (courtesy COVID-19) as compared to 69.5 and 72 years in 2019 in India. At the end, let us quote a couplet from Basir Badra, who probably could foresee and correctly depict the social norms prescribed for both — COVID 19 & Contagion —


(Nobody is going to shake hands with you, even if you embrace him with warmth. This is a city of different temperament—Always keep and maintain a distance with the people, when you meet).

* (Author: Dr. A.K. Sinha is a Physician (MBBS, MD-MEDICINE) who worked for long in the public sector. Now does independent practice as a consultant physician)

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