Mr. Santosh Pradhan, ICT Research Scholar talks about types of coronaviruses, myths, projects to fight COVID-19 and much more!
Mr. Santosh Prandhan, a Ph.D. Research Scholar (Biochemistry) from ICT Mumbai and a consultant to Life Sciences, Food and Beverage industries share an interesting insight on COVID-19, research, and myths around it. To start with he first gave a brief about the novel COVID-19 infection, he explains that CoVID-19 comes under the family coronaviridae, single-stranded RNA virus of around 25-32 kilobase in length and they mainly cause respiratory illness of varying severity including the common cold and fatal pneumonia.
7 types of coronaviruses are present
Mr. Pradhan said, If we look at the history, numerous coronaviruses are known which were first discovered in poultry in the 1930 which was known to cause respiratory and neurological disease. There are 7 different types of corona viruses known to cause diseases in humans. 4 of 7 coronaviruses (229E, OC43, NL63 and HUK1) known to cause common cold and rarely respiratory tract infection, pneumonia and can occur in infants, older people and immunocompromised people. According to him, 3 of 7 coronaviruses (SARS-CoV2, MERS, SARS-CoV) cause much more severe and fatal respiratory infection.
Mr. Pradhan along with ICT Mumbai team, Reaxycare bio solution are working on developing a cost-effective diagnostic kit for COVID-19
While highlighting the diagnostic procedure for COVID-19, Mr. Pradhan explained that currently, the protocol that is being used for diagnosis of COVID-19 is RT-PCR (Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction) of lower and upper respiratory secretion. And apart from RT-PCR, ELISA and Chest X-Ray are also used for the diagnosis.
He said, “We at ICT, Mumbai are working on development of a cost effective diagnostic model which can help us to detect the CoVID-19 on site within an hour and doesn’t require any sophisticated instrument.” He further added that a team from ICT Mumbai in collaboration with Lasa supergenerics is also working on the effectiveness of antiviral drug Favipiravir against COVID-19.
Thoughts on the recurrence of COVID-19
When asked about the recurrence of the deadly virus infection once cured, he explained that whenever a virus infects a person, the human body’s immune system produces antibodies that work against epitopes on the virus and a subset of these antibodies can help prevent the virus infection with neutralization process. That’s the reason why we see a person get automatically cured after a few days of incubation.
He further added, “Similarly, in CoVID, 80% of the people get cured automatically and death rate is around 4%. Now once the person get cured from infection, memory cells are generated and when the person comes in contact with a similar virus again, the probability of severity is less.”
Other projects Mr. Pradhan is working on
Mr. Pradhan is also writing a research paper and thesis on ‘’Aflatoxin detection and mitigation strategies” where he has worked on various molecular biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, analytical techniques. He has extensively worked on techniques like Gene expression, Chromatographic purification, and analysis techniques, Antimicrobial techniques, Elisa Development for Aflatoxin detection, Metabolomics studies. He is actively working on Microbial pigments, Smart textiles, Upstream and downstream processing, Enzyme development strategies, preservative-free drinks, and foods.
Myths around COVID-19
According to Mr. Pradhan, there are a lot of myths and hoax stories being shared online on various social media platforms including whatsapp, Tiktok, Instagram as information might be uploaded by someone who might not even have an expertise in that field. Here is a list of myths around COVID-19:
- Coronavirus is ball-shaped and size is in mm and can be seen with the naked eyes
According to him, the virus cannot be in ‘mm’ and the smallest virus are the parvovirus family having a size of around 20nm while Ebola is one of the biggest virus (with respect to size), which was a major outbreak during 2013-2016 in the western African region.
- Taking a hot bath will prevent disease
According to him, this doesn’t help as human body temperature is 36 ºC to 37ºC and using more hot water can actually end up burning the skin.
- Coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bite
Till date there is no evidence that mosquito bite can spread the disease, it is mainly spread by respiratory secretion.
- Hand dryers are effective in killing CoVID- viruses
No, hand dryers cannot kill the COVID-19 virus hence frequent cleaning hands with alcohol-based sanitizer is important.
- UV light can be used to kill the viruses
Yes, UV rays can kill the virus but it cannot be used for therapy on the human body as it can cause skin irritation and cancer.
- Thermal scanners can detect infection
No, thermal scanners are used to check fever, however, an infectious person in the early stage may not have a fever and can give a false-negative result, however a person with fever may show a false positive report for CoVID-19. So thermal scanners are only used to check the probable infected person and it is not a confirmatory test.
- Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over the body or clothes can kill Coronavirus
No, CoVID-19 is a respiratory infection where it infects the upper and lower respiratory tract hence spraying alcohol on the body surface and clothes will not cure or kill the virus, in fact spraying such substance can be harmful on the skin, and mucous membrane.
- The vaccine against pneumonia can protect you from corona
No, vaccines against pneumonia do not protect from the coronavirus.
- Only older people are affected and killed by the coronavirus
People of all ages can get infected by corona however people with old age and the ones who are immunocompromised are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
To conclude with, he has a small piece of advice for the readers, “With respect to CoVID. I would say Don’t panic, stop forwarding any information without checking its authenticity, take precautionary action aired on authenticate sites like ICMR, CDC, WHO, FDA. If found any symptoms, please get it diagnosed not necessary it will be CoVID-19. It could be a normal flu also and remember more than 80% chances are there that it will be cured automatically by taking supportive care. Finally I would say stay indoors in this emergency and keep yourself updated with authentic information and most important this is the best time to give yourself time.”