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India coronavirus dispatch: AYUSH recommendations add to confusion on norms

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Ed-tech boom, impact on ecological research, and fresh research on Covid-19 treatment–news on how the country is coping with the pandemic

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Coronavirus Tests | Coronavirus Vaccine

AYUSH recommendations muddy the discourse on Covid-19 treatments: In October, the AYUSH ministry—which oversees the propagation of alternative medicine in India—had provided guidelines to incorporate “Ayurveda and Yoga therapies” into the country’s Covid-19 national clinical management protocol. The ministry advises tackling coronavirus with gargles of hot water, applying medicated ghee in the nostrils, inhaling steam, drinking hot turmeric milk, and herbal teas, among other things. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare—which is charged with overseeing health policy in India—already has a modern medicine-based clinical protocol for Covid-19. The manual has been revised several times to introduce or remove medicines and therapies as new information emerges. Based on little scientific evidence and in contradiction with the existing clinical protocol, the latest AYUSH ministry recommendations have granted credibility to unproven home remedies and added to uncertainty over the treatment for Covid-19. Read more here

Ed-tech booms amid the pandemic: Several start-ups operating in ed-tech since the pre-pandemic period such as BYJU’s claim to have expanded during the subsequent lockdown as schools and colleges shut down. Meanwhile, newer players such as Tinker Coders and Hex N Bit entered the market and registered thousands of users within months. According to a study released this June, ed-tech consumers at both school and higher education levels doubled to 90 million between 2019 and 2020. The study was carried out by Bengaluru-based management consultancy firm RedSeer and Omidyar Network India, a Mumbai-based investment company that specialises in social-impact investing. The study found that India’s ed-tech market will be worth $3.5 billion by 2022. A similar evaluation is provided by individual players in the Indian ed-tech market, claiming the success of the platforms is likely to continue in the future, even when schools and colleges restart regular classes. Read more here

Covid-19 halts ecological research efforts: Research has shown how corals are caused to bleach by warming waters worldwide: they lose the algae that give them their colour, become stressed, and turn more susceptible to death. In Indian reefs too, coral bleaching is a challenge. Over the last two decades, coral cover has fallen by 40 per cent. Arthur and his team could decipher these trends only because they have monitored these coral reefs since 1998. They set up permanent underwater plots to carry out recovery efforts in 2012. This year, however, monitoring has not been possible. “The next few months will be critical, so we are holding our breaths,” Arthur said. Read more here

Study says blood clots in Covid-19 patients due to ‘autoantibodies’: Patients with severe infections of Covid-19 develop blood clots that can cause fatal strokes and limit blood flow in the lungs. Findings from new research published in the Science Translational Medicine show that the production of certain antibodies triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes the clots. The body’s cells are attacked by an autoimmune antibody circulating in the blood, causing clots in the lungs, nerves, and microscopic vessels. These antibodies are generally found in patients who have an autoimmune disease called antiphospholipid syndrome, a condition in which natural proteins in the blood are mistakenly targeted by the immune system. The researchers plan to focus on whether removing or blocking the antibodies will lead to better results. Read more here

Ivermectin can help in fighting infection, says study: A two-dose Ivermectin prophylaxis—a type of treatment given to prevent disease— has led to a 73 per cent reduction in Covid-19 infection among healthcare workers, according to a study carried out by AIIMS-Bhubaneswar. Ivermectin is a drug that is being currently explored for its efficacy in preventing coronavirus. Among the about 4,600 employees at the medical research public university, over 625 people have tested positive for coronavirus so far. As many as 372 of those infected, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, and sanitisation workers were included in the study which lasted a month. Read more here

Throwing caution to the wind: The recent spike in Covid-19 infections did not prove a dampener for pre-Diwali shopping in Delhi. With scarce regard for masks and social distancing norms issued by the government, massive crowds could be seen flocking to the markets of the city. Read more here

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