Q: If I have a cough or cold, should I get tested for coronavirus?
Dr. Randeep Guleria : No, not everyone needs testing. Having cold, cough, or even fever does not indicate COVID-19 infection. You need testing only if you:
– Have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive patient
– Have been to a COVID-19 hotspot zone
Q: If I am old and I have a cough and cold, should I get a COVID-19 test done?
Dr. Randeep Guleria : If you are elderly and have comorbidities such as hypertension, heart diseases, or diabetes, you need to get tested only if you fall in the high-risk category. This means testing is required only if:
– You have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive patient
– You live in or have been to a COVID-19 hotspot zone
Q: Does taking Vitamin C and Zinc supplements increase immunity? Will it help to fight the COVID-19 disease?
Dr. Randeep Guleria : Numerous studies suggest the role of zinc and other supplements such as High dose Vitamin C not only as prophylaxis but also as a treatment. Other trace elements such as selenium and copper are also being studied for their immunity-boosting potential. However, there is not enough data to say that these elements are definitely useful in preventing COVID-19.
Q: What is the testing strategy in India? Are we testing less than the world?
Dr. Randeep Guleria : The policy of coronavirus testing has evolved in India. Testing for COVID-19 in India depends upon numerous factors such as people coming from countries where COVID-19 cases are active. Surveillance programs are also taken into consideration which keeps a check on people suffering from influenza-like illness, thus any patient with severe acute respiratory illness is tested for COVID-19.
The strategy for testing is evolving and random testing is not advised as it won’t give any answers at the moment and will be a waste of resources.
Q: Is the impact of COVID-19 less in India than other countries owing to better immunity of Indians?
Dr. Randeep Guleria : More data is required in support of greater immunity of Indians to COVID-19 than people of other countries. It is assumed that because India has had a stringent BCG vaccination policy– wherein all newborn babies are given BCG vaccination– they may be better protected from the virus as compared to countries that do not have such a policy. Another possibility is that India has a younger population as compared to European countries. This could contribute to lower mortality rates.
Q: How long will it take for a vaccine to develop? Once developed, will it be indicated for everyone?
Dr. Randeep Guleria : Extensive research is underway in India as well as abroad for vaccine development. However, safe and effective vaccine development against a new virus or any microorganism has to go through various stages. After the safety and efficacy of a vaccine are established, it goes for mass production which may take anywhere around 12 months. Once developed, its availability may initially be considered for high-risk populations, such as frontline health workers and later to other sections of the population.
Q: According to you, what methods should our country adopt to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Dr. Randeep Guleria : COVID-19 is a community battle where each one of us needs to understand our responsibilities as a citizen. Some of the measures that are non-negotiable are:
Hand-washing: Enough has been said in favor of how crucial proper handwashing is in the prevention of COVID-19 infection.
Protecting the elderly: The elderly are more prone to getting severely affected by the COVID-19 infection due to compromised immunity and/or presence of any comorbidities. Hence, keeping them protected is of utmost importance.
Home quarantine/social distancing: It will help prevent the spread of infection and is a crucial measure in containing the virus.