Actor Madhuri Dixit and husband Dr. Shriram Nene shared a video with the latter answering COVID related questions. They started the video with a message of support, "The hope would be to allay your fears and hopefully make you understand what needs to be done going forward. We are heartbroken and we stand together with you, today and every other day of our lives, to make sure everyone does well."
The second COVID wave in India led to a record high in cases with the health infrastructure struggling to cope. With rising cases, there was also a rise in confusion and misinformation especially with the rise of new variants and mutations. Madhuri and Shriram created the video to 'raise awareness and improve access to evidence-based, world-class healthcare knowledge'.
When asked about the onset of the second COVID wave when things were starting to return to normal, Dr. Nene said, "People had gotten a little more bold and not really worried about precautions. Added to that we didn't have any vaccines that were vastly disseminated. The last thing that happened is that we had some variants come into play that were far more infectious."
Dr. Nene affirmed that the availability of oxygen is one of the critical issues to focus on. "The good news is everyone has joined hands to increase the amount of oxygenators and improve the oxygen situation," he said. He also emphasized the importance of increasing bed availability.
"What normally happens as things evolve is that the species of a virus which survive can evade standard detection and can spread faster. The main key or hallmark of this, like the other variants is that it does spread faster. Whether it has more mortality or not is the question but it is a player in this pandemic," he clarified.
There have been cases where patients tested negative on an RT-PCR test despite experiencing symptoms. For such cases, a CT scan is used to diagnose the disease. AIIMS, Delhi director Dr. Randeep Guleria had earlier cautioned against the disproportionate use of CT scans. In the video, Dr. Nene touched upon the same and clarified the need for CT scans and cases that can opt for them.
"Some patients who have COVID-19 test which is negative but persist with symptoms, in those cases a HRCT can make the diagnosis. Often hospitals don't have a COVID pending ward so they do the HRCT to confirm the diagnosis." He added that an HRCT can help understand the extent of lung damage in a COVID patient which will dictate what is needed for the treatment and prognosis but the connect is not absolutely clear.
He went on to talk about the function and viability of medicines like Remdesivir or steroids (medically prescribed), and the cases in which they are prescribed. "Don't panic if you don't have Remdesivir, it's not essential. It might reduce your hospital stay but as far survival, the studies don't support that. If you just have steroids, and you have blood thinner, and oxygen and support, they will potentially do well as long as they recover," he assured.
Talking about COVID symptoms, he said that symptoms of mild COVID like fever or the characteristic loss of smell and taste could be treated at home but serious symptoms like shortness of breath must be treated in a hospital.
As the shortage of oxygen continued in the country, many on social media started sharing a medical procedure called 'proning' to help with breathing. Dr. Nene addressed it and said, "In non-ventilated patients, there is some evidence that suggests that it might help… if there is no other alternative proning might be a temporary solution," but added that a medical practitioner must be consulted.
Addressing questions about vaccinations, Dr. Nene said that everyone must get vaccinated. There was misinformation about the vaccines not being effective due to those being vaccinated sometimes getting COVID. He clarified that vaccines protect against the disease, but not infection. A vaccine ensures that the infection does not lead to severe disease.
It is important to remember that virologists have explained that partial protection usually kicks in two weeks after a first dose, and full protection is achieved 2 weeks after the second one.
The duo reiterated the need to continue following COVID protocol like masks and sanitizers despite being vaccinated to protect those around. The video was published with an important disclaimer that reads, "Every individual should consult with their own healthcare professional before embarking on a healthcare journey. The information provided is no substitute for a thorough evaluation, exam and advice from your GP."
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