MeraDoc, a personalised healthcare platform that connects health practitioners with people, hosted a webinar today on 'COVID-19 & Comorbidities' in association with IPE Global, MSOSA, Heart Care Foundation of India (Dr KK Aggarwal Research Fund) and LSE (London School of Economics) Alumni Association.
Healthcare experts Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and MD, Medanta; Dr Arvinder Singh Soin, Chairman, Institute of Liver Transplant, Medanta; and Dr Ambrish Mithal, Chairman, Head of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Max Healthcare came together to discuss on the pressing subject. Ashwajit Singh, Founder and Managing Director, IPE Global moderated the session and facilitated the exchange of information between the panelists and participants.
“We invited the second wave and if we were to repeat the same, then God help us! With a near double mortality versus the first, the second was a shocker,” was an upfront message by Dr Trehan. He added, “if we were to beat the virus, then we need to not only follow COVID appropriate behaviour, but also look at the way vaccine is rolled out.” Sounding optimistic, he said, If starting July 1st, we are able to administer 50 lakh vaccines a day then we can reduce the virus impact by 25 per cent and by 50 per cent if this is scaled up to 70 lakh by mid-July. We may even flatten the curve if we are able to vaccinate about 90-lakh people in a day by end of the month.” Dr Trehan also lauded the government efforts in this health calamity and added that with a whopping 4 lakh plus numbers a day, it may not have been easy for any country to handle such a crisis. Dr Trehan talked about the recent wonder drug and advocated for monoclonal antibody (cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab) recently launched in India. He said it is an effective weapon for treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients, is effective against variants when given in first seven days and, has the potential to reduce hospitalization by nearly 70-80 per cent.
Dr Trehan also stated, "that while COVID could affect a person ether mildly or moderately depending on age and health, it presents the most risks for those with pre-existing comorbidities. The two most common heart conditions the virus causes are heart failure (due to excessive pressure in the lungs or from heart inflammation known as myocarditis) and heart arrhythmia. While in older patients, chances of heart failure are more due to the presence of existing heart conditions the younger are affected mostly as consequence of myocarditis caused by COVID-19."
Adding on to Dr Trehan’s words, Dr Soin talked about the learnings from the various waves so far. Dr Soin said, “While we lost many near and dear ones in the second wave, there have a couple of good things as well. We know the virus better and if there is a third wave, which in all likelihood is going to be there, we will be better prepared. There is improved infrastructure preparedness with more beds, oxygen and ICUs. Besides, the stock of vaccine with the government is also healthier now.” Dr Soin mentioned about the excellent results coming from Novavax which has the potential to prove effective against virus variants and urged everyone to vaccinate quickly to come out of the crisis together quickly. Talking about the linkage of the virus with comorbidities, he said, “It is clear Covid-19 affects patients with liver disease more. The same receptors are there in the lungs and liver to which the virus attaches. So, if a person is normal with normal liver function, then they will not be affected as much compared to those have a liver disease and COVID infection." He elaborated upon the care that COVID-19 patients with co-morbidities need to undertake through a healthy lifestyle and diet which is imperative to fighting the virus especially critical for COVID-19 patients with hypertension and diabetes.
Dr Mithal stressed on the fact that, "the more comorbidities you have, the more severe will be the outcome of COVID infection, so vaccination and precautions like masking, social distancing and following the advise of your doctor is important.” However, he added that “all types of diabetes cannot be put in the same basket. The severity level may differ among patients. If it mild and short duration and there is no underlying heart or blood pressure issue especially among the young, then COVID may not affect so severely. However, for those with comorbid conditions, the outcome may be different.” Stressing on the importance of vaccination, he clarified that “people with diabetes must go for vaccination and the level of sugar at that point does not make much difference to the efficacy of the vaccine.” Touching on the fear of the third wave looming large on us, Dr Mithal stressed on following COVID-appropriate behaviour and vaccinating at the earliest to minimise the risk.
Dr Mahajan, President, NATHEALTH & Founder, Mahajan Imaging in his closing address lauded the efforts of the event organisers and saluted the efforts of the doctors and the entire medical fraternity in controlling the virus.