TRIPURAINFO

Corona and other Viral diseases: who wins the Battle ?

Dr VK Bahuguna

March 30, 2020, 13:19:10   

Today the entire world is under unprecedented lock down due to the Corona virus which first appeared in Wuhan Province of China in November 2019 and now is threatening the world with worst ever epidemics as it has now covered the entire nook and corner of earth. The threat to human race is on the same scale when the Prontosil, as first antibiotic was discovered in the year 1930 by the German biochemist Gerhard Domagk.  The discovery of antibiotics revolutionised the science of medicine in treating the infectious diseases. This discovery saved the humanity as leading causes of death from infections was treated by the antibiotics and rest is history. Today the world after so much changes from the 20th Century, is at a cross road once again and a time has come to think of how to get rid of Viruses that are assuming serious proportion and unless the modern science takes it head on it will continue to hound the human race and put a question mark on its survival.

It will also not be very out of place to link various viral disease's explosion in recent times with climate change and changes it has brought in the living environment which is recklessly dominated and exploited by the human beings. It is argued by many experts that at the end of the Cretaceous era the emerging virus might have given mammals an edge over dinosaurs by incorporated itself into mammal genome and created conditions that helped the mammals to survive which apart from other reasons ultimately led to the extinction of the mighty dinosaurs.

Today the Corona Virus is dancing like a demon on the earth and in the process had thrown the biggest challenge of our time to modern science of medicine by proving that technologically the most advanced country like United States of America can be proved helpless in dealing with this invasion as it has been inflicted with more than 82500 cases of Corona patients as on 26th March 2020 and thus overtaking China from where the virus sprang up. Today the entire world economy is on the verge of collapse due to lock down in most countries.

2. The question confronting general public is why many viral diseases like HIV, SAAR and now Corona epidemics are dodging the present generation of science. The scientists and biologists must ponder how to develop a vaccine or medicine to fight it. In fact vaccine can be created from the blood serum of those surviving humans and from Pangolin, Bat, snakes and other animals which have developed anti bodies against this Virus. Many Indian tribes have also developed anti bodies against many diseases. May be scientists are on it since the Corona had broken out. But the present generation of science must find an antidote like science discovered Penicillin in 30s against bacteria. Viral diseases are forgotten by scientists and rulers once it tapers off unlike Bacteria which caused unstopped epidemic till antibiotics were invented. The main cause of lack of interests is the capacity of virus to mutate fast(in the process rendering the work less saleable) and their less studied genome of RNA or DNA which frustrates the scientists and also makes the research uneconomical.

3. The viral diseases are proving more lethal all over the world because viruses are neither fully living being nor fully non living. All viruses have nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA, and a protein coat, which encases the nucleic acid. Some viruses like Corona are also enclosed by an envelope of fat and protein molecules. The protein coat protects the viral genome from nucleases and during infection attaches the virion to specific receptors on the prospective host cell. The modus operandi is to penetrate the cell membrane of the host cell and then replicate in abundance inside the host. They have puzzled the scientists because being infectious agents with both living and nonliving characteristics. Living characteristics of viruses include the ability to reproduce but only in living host cells but their ability to mutate quickly poses the real challenge. The Corona virus is also the mutated version of previously known virus.

The real challenge today for the scientists is to stop the virus delivering its RNA or DNA genome into the host cell. Once inside the host cell it takes over and replicate profusely so the attempts should be to develop medicines which will effectively prevent the entry. It is also to be researched if the virus might have evolved from the strands or pieces of RNA or DNA of some animals and ultimately understood to placate with the host cell by aligning with some genes. Yet another way to explore is to find if some Indian tribes/population has developed antibodies against some viruses and these can be used. The focus of research should be more on tackling the issue at genome level first and Indian Council of Medical Research should head a consortium of Indian Institutions which should also read the ancient literature and find out the traditional wisdom of ancient India in dealing with such viruses.

However, we must also realize that the mutations in viruses and other living beings are largely being caused by environmental factors and consequent climate change and unless the world seriously tackles climate change the future of human race on this planet will be looming in royal uncertainty. On the hind sight it also appears as the nature's way to take revenge for killing other plants and animals by man and regulate the process of life by bringing equilibrium. We as country would like to give a clarion call to Indian scientists to invent a treatment and the knowledge of science tells us it may be within reach if acted upon sincerely. Why to only wait for the scientists of Western countries to invent things. Let Prime Minister Modi who is seriously concerned about the epidemic appoints a task force to develop an effective antidote. The viral RNA or DNA anti dote will have to be discovered one day if humanity had to survive.

The situation is still in stage two in India it seems as it has started tapering off. The exponential growth is not yet recorded like in United States of America, Italy, Spain and Britain. In Tripura so far not a single case has been detected and social/ physical distance is being maintained. However, From the point of view of Tripura it is very necessary that the State government takes proactive steps in the tribal areas to see no one dies from hunger due to the current lock down which may have to be increased based on the assessment. The State must use forest and tribal welfare departments to supply the food and medicines to the tribal people so that there is no migration and starvation. The tribal belt may have herd immunity to counter this virus as some scientists are using malaria drugs to contain it and reporting good success. During early eighties this writer used to supply malaria and other seasonal diseases medicines to the tribal and interior areas including the forest beat offices. The recent manhandling by Kejriwal government and bureaucracy in Delhi is an eye opener for all as the needs of 45 lakh daily wagers was not at all visualized when the lock down was enforced. Today most of the cases in India were spread by the people who returned from foreign countries and were not quarantined by states. The Indian Embassies also abdicated their duties by simply sending back the Indians and ill advising the Prime Minister. When Embassy people can live safely there they could have made quarantine, medicine and food arrangements for the needy till they had recovered and then they could have been sent home. Hope India takes control of its life and economy once again after 14th April when the lock down ends.

   (Tripurainfo)

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