Why is Covid 19 low in India?

I wanted to share my thoughts on Covid 19earlier. Dr Devadas’ article has made me write my thoughts on this now. I do not want to go into health aspects of Covid and the strategies being implemented to contain the disease in India. Most of you are well versed on these.

In 2005 the whole world was working on a figure of 12 million HIV/AIDS cases in India. When I went into the interior pockets of Andhra Pradesh, there was a stark contrast with a significantly larger number of cases in coastal AP than in interior AP. Further unlike in Africa no village was being completely wiped off even in areas with high prevalence. It was concluded that India was under reporting.

By 2006, following a well planned study, it was concluded that India had only around 2.5 – 3 million cases of HIV/AIDS.

I think a similar story is repeating itself in Covid 19 as well. I am thankful to Dr Devadas for sharing two useful graphs which show the true Indian picture. In his paper he has argued very clearly that it is not under reporting or inadequate testing. If there were more cases, they would naturally seek medical care and get counted.

There is a fear that India with its apparently poor health infrastructure would do worse when compared to the European countries and the US. Most of these countries are working on non communicable diseases and not communicable diseases as India is handling both. Now the bundling of countries along with India must be seen along with the subsequent global map.

If you look the actual data and link it with the map below, there is one pattern that emerges. Most of the countries bundled with India are from the tropics. The countries with large numbers are from the northern temperate zone. When this pandemic started the entire Southern Hemisphere was experiencing summer. When the disease arrived in India we had just started our summer months. Right now Tamilnadu has begun experiencing extreme summer weather. Dr Devadas alluded this in his paper that the hot weather might be one reason why the disease has not spread as much as in the temperate countries. I believe this is the first and the most important cause for the difference.

Dr Devadas also alluded to another possible factor also mentioned by Dr George Kurian elsewhere that the Tamilnadu population has got gut immunity because of infection with other corona viruses, based on earlier studies in CMC Vellore. This could be the second possible reason.

The third possible reason is the diet pattern of Indians in general. The natural foods that go into our daily diet, is considered to be immunity building foods. In a jocular manner, someone brought in A Face Book post that the ‘rasam’ of Tamilnadu is good for this disease. If you know the ingredients that go into ‘rasam,’ they all enhance immunity. In many villages, a herb ‘thuthuvalai’ is used routinely, which is considered as immunity enhancing herb.

This was brought home to me very clearly just about the time prior to the arrival of ART in mass treatment for HIV/AIDS. At that stage, a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was a death certificate. And then suddenly I saw in a project a number of HIV/AIDS patients with CD4 counts of 500 plus. As I analysed them further, they were consuming herbs in a significant manner. The first was moringa leaf juice. The second was aloe vera juice and finally rosella or the famous ‘gongura.’ All these are supposed to naturally increase immunity.

I know there is a scepticism on natural foods and their healing power. I wish critical scientist would carry out well controlled scientific lab based studies and either disprove or prove their effectiveness in natural healing and enhancing immunity.

The fourth factor I would like to add is that the government has gone on a war footing. They did bungle up the Delhi meeting a bit. Otherwise the government has done significant interventions to control the disease.

Finally as one who believes in prayer and God’s answers to prayer, Tamilnadu has been one of the key epicentres of Global prayer. I believe God has answered the prayers of a large number of people throughout the world, especially those originating from Tamilnadu.

I would certainly value criticisms and feedback to my thoughts. When the pandemic is controlled it would be interesting to see what were the real factors.

Published by rajaratnamabel

Having completed my undergraduate medical education from Christian Medical College, Vellore, India. Then I had the privilege of completing my Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. I could also complete my PhD in Chennai, India. Based on my extensive work in nutrition backed by a number of scientific publication, I also received the Fellowship of the International College of Nutrition (FICN). I retired from active service in 2005. Since then God enabled me to be a Consultant Public Health Physician, at the SUHAM Trust of the DHAN Foundation in Madurai. I am involved in providing community based health care support to a large number Self Help Groups in 14 Indian states.

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