By Sushil Kutty
As if the shorter version of Covid-19 wasn’t enough, there’s the Long Covid to contend with. The lucky ones get struck by a sudden halt to heart beat and the call from heaven! This happened to a TV journalist who had made enemies. Also to a prominent cardiologist who was making you-tube videos from his AIIMS bed, advising people on how to beat Covid-19, only for the coronavirus to claim him. Long Covid didn’t get to haunt him.
That said, the second Covid wave is fading, though there’s a deluge of the Long Covid, people with post-Covid symptoms and complications. Bouts of coughing, joint aches, insomnia, chest pain, mood fluctuations, general weakness… These are just a few of the lingering symptoms that continue to wrack the Covid-19 survivor. Doctors say that one-in-five Covid-19-survivor may experience Long Covid symptoms come rain or sunshine.
These people need to rest, heal and manage the symptoms, mostly all by themselves. The gist is Long Covid or Post-Covid Syndrome may last weeks and months after recovery from Covid-19. What’s more, a bunch of people from AIIMS have now come up with the revelation that the Delta variant of the coronavirus can infect even the vaccinated! This doesn’t augur well for Covid-19 survivors, and also to those who are vaccinated.
Don’t forget Delta instigated the second Covid wave, and caused the tens of thousands of deaths over 30 consecutive April-May days. Doctors, who are still studying Delta, say hearing loss, gastric upsets and blood clots leading to gangrene made the Delta variant more severe, and by far more infectious. These are not symptoms typically seen in Covid patients.
Delta, also known as B.1.617.2, spread to over 60 countries in six months and forced Australia and the United States to impose travel curbs. It made the United Kingdom reconsider reopening its economy. The higher transmission rates and reduction in effectiveness of vaccines made it difficult to understand Delta.
More scientific research is required, say doctors, who are also seeing more Covid-19 patients with diarrhoea. In fact, the enemy has a new face: Highly unpredictable with symptoms including stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hearing loss, and joint pain! The Beta and Gamma variants (of South Africa and Brazil respectively) did not have these clinical signs. Delta patients developed micro thrombi or small blood clots — affected tissue died and developed gangrene.
It’s now more or less agreed that Delta spurred the deadly second Covid wave – and was 50% more contagious than the Alpha strain of the UK. Doctors were stumped by the blood clots in those with no history of coagulation problems. Doctors are now collecting data. There have been instances of clots in vessels that supplied blood to intestines, causing stomach pain.
Every person (with Delta strain) is showing a different set of symptoms. Scientists and doctors are studying Delta to get a hang of things. Then there’s the ‘Kappa’ variant which forced the fourth Melbourne lockdown.
The most alarming aspect of Delta is the speed at which it spread, including to children. Also, entire families started displaying Covid symptoms. Delta showed an unusual increase in household transmissions. Mucormycosis or ‘Back Fungus’ also rose with Delta – 8,800 cases as of May 22. With Delta Covid outbreaks in Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam there’s “emerging evidence” that Delta may be “adept at evading vaccine-induced antibodies”. And vaccines will have to keep ahead of the new variants.
So, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets set to vaccinate India’s millions in record time, his political future, along with that of his Government, hinges on whether he’s aware that the enemy he faces is not the political Opposition, which will not let him get away with a mistake, but the coronavirus which is fully aware of the prowess of every vaccine developed, and doesn’t hesitate to mutate accordingly.
Those in the know say that women and people who have more than five symptoms in the first week of infection are the most vulnerable to post-Covid syndrome or Long Covid. Among these five, brain fog and anxiety and breathlessness baffle and trouble. They also sound exotic and kind of elite! They’re not. They can screw up happiness. And if Covid-19 has done anything, it’s to hinder the human being’s quest to the pursuit of happiness. Long Covid and the coronavirus’s ability to evade vaccines makes pursuit of happiness very difficult. The trick is to not let brain fog and memory loss stop recovery. (IPA Service)