The elusive virus | Pakistan Today

The elusive virus

  • Will smoking help? Or astrology?

covid-19 is an elusive virus. The common symptoms of covid-19 are dry cough, fever, sore throat, tiredness and respiratory difficulties. However, there is no consistency in the virus’ behavior. Unlike covid-19’s cousins SARS and MERS, covid-19 patients may be symptom-free, spreading the virus around. To identify asymptomatic patients, doctors notice a pink eye, sudden loss of smell or taste, and now covid toes. Dermatologists in Italy found a sudden surge in inflammation in toes in March. Dermatologists in Europe and America are discussing a new potential symptom to identify a covid-19 patient, particularly if the novel coronavirus has infected kids and young adults. In March, some dermatologists in Italy found an inflammation of toes and feet, and discolouration of the organ of those suffering from covid-19.

This condition is akin to frostbite or pernio, a condition found among people living in harsh winters in polar and sub-polar regions. There, blood vessels in the toes get aggravated inflammation and toes tend to have serious spasm.

The condition was nicknamed ‘ Covid Toes’ because dermatologists found it to be most prevalent in areas with a high concentration of covid-19 patients in Italy. ‘Covid Toes’ have surfaced in the USA, as in Boston. The American Academy of Dermatology recommended coronavirus tests for kids visiting them with ‘Covid Toes’.

There is no conclusive evidence about the origin of the deadly virus. Speculation that it was a biological weapon is uncorroborated.

Like India, Pakistan’s TV channels, also, promote pseudo-scientific Zodiac predictions. Newspapers publish daily horoscopes, instead of scientific quizzes to arouse scientific curiosity and ingenuity of the mind

A recent erroneous online message circulating around the world and purporting to be a UNICEF communication advised that avoiding ice-cream and other cold foods could help prevent the onset of the disease. Donald Trump threatened India with retaliation if it did not export the requisite quantity of hydroxychloroquine to the USA. India had put the drug on its licensed list. The USA’s Food and Drug Authority however warned against side-effects of unsupervised use of the medicine. It increases the heartbeat. Nevertheless, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are FDA-approved to treat or prevent malaria, treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

As yet, there is no proven retroviral drug. Germany and the USA have tested some vaccines. A drug Tamiflu, effective against Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and Remdesivir (Gilead Sciences Inc.), originally tested on Ebola, are being experimented on COVID19, besides HIV medicine Kaletra/Aluvia (lopinavir)/ritonavir (AbbVie). India has progressed into an indigenous synthesis of multiple promising anti-viral molecules such as Umifenovir, Favipiravir. phytopharmaceuticals, and leads from traditional medical systems are also being explored in parallel. A covid-19 patient recovered from convalescent plasma therapy. But, results elsewhere are not similar. Use of herbal medicines like kalonji (black seeds, kadha, and their ilk has doubtful efficacy.

Nicotine could protect people from contracting the coronavirus, according to new research in France. Findings come after researchers at a top Paris hospital examined 343 coronavirus patients along with 139 people infected with the illness, but with milder symptoms

They found that a low number of them smoked, compared to smoking rates of around 35 percent in France’s general population.

Nicotine could protect people “Among these patients, only five percent were smokers,” said Zahir Amoura, the study’s co-author and a professor of internal medicine. The theory is that nicotine could adhere to cell receptors, therefore blocking the virus from entering cells and spreading in the body, according to renowned neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux from France’s Pasteur Institut, who also co-authored the study. Smoking kills 75,000 smokers every year.

The pseudo-`professsors’ and believers claim that the French apothecary, astrologer and seer Michel de Nostradamus wrote in the year 1551: “There will be a twin year (2020) from which will arise a queen (Corona) who will come from the east (China) and who will spread a plague (virus) in the darkness of night on a country with seven hills (Italy) and will transform the Twilight of men into dust (death), to destroy and ruin the world. It will be the end of the world economy as you know it.”

Astrologer Acharya Vinod Kumar in an Instagram post has predicted that the coronavirus will end in India between September and November. For many the current position of the celestial objects is the reason for the global pandemic.

Like India, Pakistan’s TV channels, also, promote pseudo-scientific Zodiac predictions. Newspapers publish daily horoscopes, instead of scientific quizzes to arouse scientific curiosity and ingenuity of the mind. In Egypt, Aristotle found a plate with the zodiac carved in gold. He could not make head or tail of it, and sent it to Alexander far afield. He too was skeptical. Alexander however continued to roam naked around Ulysses to attract good fortune in his battles. He also drew solace from the Aristotle-annotated Iliad hidden in his pillow. Spartacus believed in oracles. But, he too took the Oracle of Delphi with a pinch of salt.

Fourier proved that Zodiac and other psychic interpretations are vague. Better read Edward de Bono, psychologists Barry Beyerstein, Dickson and Kelly, Myers-Briggs (their Indicator) to avoid being deceived by fraudsters on streets and channels. Mathematician Leibnitz deciphered I Ching (book of changes) into 64 predictions. Psychologist Jung believed in it. Countless people, including psychologists, lawyers, and writers (Jude Devreux) fell a prey to fortunetellers and psychics (The Psychic’s $17 million Scam, Reader’s Digest, May 2014). In USA, a psychic was sentenced to 10 years and one month (though prosecution sought 27 years sentence).

The writer is a freelance journalist, has served in the Pakistan government for 39 years and holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law. He can be reached at [email protected]