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Steam Inhalation for a week kills Coronavirus?

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The common misconception is that steam inhalation is beneficial in preventing and treating respiratory tract symptoms. Social media and home-made tutorials from unverified sources have a role in misleading patients, caregivers and most important parents of young children into practising this dangerous habit.1 A social media forward doing the rounds claims steam inhalation kills the Coronavirus because at different temperatures, the virus behaves differently and is ultimately weakened and dies. This is NOT TRUE.

As per a Cochrane Review2, while steam inhalation is traditionally used as a home remedy for common colds and upper respiratory tract infections, the evidence base of the practice is weak, with unproven theories that the steam loosens mucus, opens nasal passages, and reduces mucosal inflammation, or that the heat inhibits replication of viruses.This review found evidence to be equivocal but that it did lead to symptom relief in the common cold. However, overall it found that evidence supporting steam inhalation in the treatment of the common cold was inadequate to recommend it for routine clinical practice.

Whilst none of the trials in the review2 found steam inhalation to cause a worsening of respiratory symptoms, steam inhalation has been associated with other complications, most notably scald injuries. 

The National Institute for Clinical Excellent (NICE) currently recommends3 that steam inhalation may be used as a symptomatic remedy, which may “theoretically help congested mucus drain better and heat may destroy the cold virus, as it does in vitro”. An observational study conducted by Mahajan et al. also concluded that steam can be permitted as an adjunct to social distancing, sanitizers and masks and PPE for effective precaution as well as cure in COVID-19; but this study warrants further extended randomized controlled trials to see the effect of steam on larger groups of patients or healthcare staff.

It is important to note that steam inhalation has been a hazard to children as well. Resulting scalds can ultimately lead to hospital admission, surgery, and life-long disfigurement. Brewster et al. reported that the Burns Centre at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, UK, received a 30-fold increase in the number of scalds directly resulting from steam inhalation. The article published in The Lancet, further emphasized that parental education is paramount to preventing these injuries. Steam inhalation should be actively discouraged and parents should be taught about alternative treatments for their child.

Source:

1.Brewster CT, et al. Lancet. 2020;395(10238):1690. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31144-2
2.Singh M, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017; 2017CD001728
3.NHS Clinical Knowledge; 2016. What self-care advice should i give to someone with the common cold? [Internet]. Summaries. Available from: https://cks.nice.org.uk/common-cold#!scenario.
4.Mahajan HN. July 2020 Indian Medical Gazette. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343262923_Indian_Medical_Gazette_Use_of_Steam_as_Adjuvant-treatment_in_Covid-19_Patients_An_Observational_Study

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Coronavirus

Italy to mandate green passes for entry to museums and other public places

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With rising cases in Italy, the Italian Government has decided to mandate a ‘green pass’ to visit its museums, attend sports events, enter restaurants, attend town fairs and conferences or casinos, visit bingo parlors and pools, among other public activities.

Similar to the Passe Sanitaire issued by the French Government, this pass is set to go into effect from August 6, according to current reports. Eligibility for the pass includes at least one dose of a COVID vaccine in the previous nine months or proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the past 48 hours. Recently recovered from COVID-19 patients are also eligible for the pass provided they can submit sufficient proof for the same. According to the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s official statement, these passes are meant to allow people to do the things they enjoy “with the assurance they won’t be next to contagious people”.

As of now on 26th July 2021, it is not clear as to how non-Italian residents or tourists and visitors would be able to obtain this green pass or if there will be any equivalent documents from other countries that could be considered for issuance of the green pass. According to their Press Release, eventually Italy could make the Green Pass mandatory for travel including trains, buses and air travel. However, Italian nightclubs that have remained shut for some time continue to remain shut until further notice.

Italy was among the countries worst affected by the pandemic in early 2020 and reported the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the European Union.

Italy has reported more than 4.3 million cases of COVID-19 and close to 128,000 deaths, according to the latest available data from the World Health Organization. The WHO further reports that over 5.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered till date.

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Coronavirus

Sputnik Light refused Emergency Use License in India

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Globally most COVID-19 vaccines developed including the Pfizer-BioNTech, Astra Zeneca, Sputnik V, the Indianized Covishield to the Bharat Biotech manufactured Covaxin, are all administered in two doses. Sputnik manufacturers have recently launched a variant of its successful Sputnik V vaccine and this vaccine claims to have the advantage of being administered in a single dose. The one-dose vaccine, dubbed as Sputnik Light, could speed up the pace of vaccination drive in countries like India, inoculating twice as many people at the same time.

Sputnik Light was approved for emergency use in Russia in May, with an efficacy of approximately 80%.

While the Sputnik V received emergency use approval in India in early April, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has refused to grant emergency-use authorization to Sputnik Light – the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine stating that there is need for the conduct of the phase-3 trial of the ‘lighter’ version of the Russian vaccine in the country.

Sputnik Light, developed by Gamaleya National Research Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology, received authorization for use in Russia in May. The makers announced that the single dose Sputnik Light has 79.4% efficacy, but the company is yet to release scientific papers detailing the trial phase of the Sputnik Light vaccine, which may be one of the reasons that despite Sputnik V being authorized for use in 69 countries and Sputnik Light being authorized in 10 countries, neither Sputnik V nor Sputnik Light has received authorization for emergency use from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

Thus, while Russia recently rolled out the single-dose Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine, also known as Gam-COVD-Vac for worldwide circulation, some global health authorities including the CDSCO in India have stated that more tests are necessary to confirm its reliability.

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Tuberculosis is rising in COVID patients

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Some media reports recently covered and reported a sudden rise in cases of Tuberculosis (TB) in patients who were infected with COVID-19. This is not true. According to the Health Ministry Press Information Bureau report of 17th July 2021, “there is not enough evidence currently to suggest that there has been an increase in TB cases due to COVID-19 or due to increased case finding efforts.”

Tuberculosis is associated with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe COVID19 disease. The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has recently recommended TB screening for all COVID-19 patients and COVID-19 screening for all diagnosed TB patients to better understand and analyze the convergence of TB and COVID-19 for better surveillance and case finding of TB and COVID-19. The recommendation highlights studies that have shown that history of active as well as latent TB as an important risk factor for the COVID-19 infection.

Active or latent TB further results in increased susceptibility with rapid and severe symptom development and disease progression with poor outcomes. In addition, TB patients also tend to have co-morbid or living conditions (malnutrition, diabetes, smoking, HIV etc.) that increase their vulnerability.

Both TB and COVID-19 are known to be infectious, and they primarily attack the lungs, presenting similar symptoms of cough, fever and difficulty in breathing. In addition, TB bacilli can be present in humans in a dormant state and has the potential to start multiplying when the individual’s immunity is compromised for any reason such as a post-COVID scenario for COVID-19 survivors, especially due to the infection or the treatment with immunosuppressants such as steroids.

Therefore, because the COVID-19 infection can make an individual more susceptible to developing active TB disease, or an opportunistic infection like black fungus, it is important for COVID-19 survivors to be screened for TB as recommended by the MOHFW.

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France is battling the 4th wave of the pandemic with 150% rise in cases

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Yes. France is currently battling the fourth wave of the pandemic and it is spreading with “lightening” speed.

On 21st July 2021, the French Prime Minister Mr. Jean Castex announced that the Delta variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is now the main variant circulating in France and has seen a stratospheric rise of 150% jump in cases in a week. He also added that 96% of the 18,000 new cases reported on 20th July 2021, were unvaccinated individuals.

In an attempt to restrict this rise, the Government in France has announced that a health pass called Passe Sanitaire will be required for all events or places with more than 50 people. This came into effect from 22nd July 2021. People wanting to go to cinemas, museums, sporting matches and other cultural venues in France will have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test.

Starting from early August, the health pass will also be needed to enter restaurants and bars and for long-distance train and plane journeys, in a move to encourage people to get vaccinated. The French Government has also announced tougher sanctions for violation of the health pass rules, with fines ranging from 1500 to 45000 Euros, including a jail sentence up to one year, for first to third time offenders across legal and natural citizens of France.

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Coronavirus

The third wave is here

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A message circulating on social media is making several claims about the COVID-19 Delta virus including the claim that the third wave is here and there are some different symptoms of the viral infection because this is a variant of the already known Delta variant of the Coronaviruses which will cause the third wave. The forward further claims that there are no obvious signs of the new variant, and its infection and patients may experience no cough or fever but a lot of joint pain, neck pain, general weakness, back aches, loss of appetite, etc. However, none of this is true.

The Press Information Bureau in its 17th July 2021 release, has also confirmed that these forwards are fake and has released a tweet on the official handle of the Bureau regarding the same.

There has been lot of talk about if and when  the third wave would hit us, as on date, we have no evidence backing the claim that India is looking at a third wave coming in or has already reached the stage to term the current state of the pandemic as the third wave.

According to various news reports and expert symposia, experts around the world, including top scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have reiterated that the onset of the third wave has begun but these are mostly based on individual countries on a case to case basis.  For India, according to the latest projections, the third wave may hit between August and October according to the government which is why the next 2-3 months will be crucial.

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