Community transmission will be a disaster, warns Dr Khuroo   

Community transmission will be a disaster, warns Dr Khuroo   

‘Vaccine likely to be available this September’

Ishtiyaq Ahmed

Srinagar, April 28: Kashmir’s noted epidemiologist, gastroenterologist and a scientist, Dr Muhamad Sultan Khuroo who has discovered “Hepatitis E” on Tuesday warned that the community transmission of deadly COVID-19 will be a disaster for the country.
He claimed that vaccine to cure the deadly virus is expected to be available by September this year.

He also maintained that so far there is no proven drug available to treat Coronavirus but key to prevent its spread lies in keeping the R-naughts (R0), the reproduction number of the virus as less as possible.

In a chat with KINS Dr Khuroo said that many countries and virologists are busy in finding a vaccine to cure deadly pandemic Covid-19 and that by September this year, a vaccine is expected to be available. “The deadly Covid-19 has taken the whole world by a storm. The reason is that the virus which has come from Wuhan, China has more infectivity power than the SARS virus,” he said.

Elaborating, Dr Khuroo, who has worked on 13 epidemic diseases so far, said that it is like that a person is positive and his whole family is positive.

“An article was published in January about the infectivity of the virus. In January, we knew it is going to be a problem for the humanity,” he said.
Stating that the R0 (R naught), reproduction number of the Covid-19 is at present 3, much higher than SARS.

“This means if one person gets a virus he will give it to three people during its life span which is five days. This also means that the person will infect three more in five days which continues to multiple and in nine days, we will have 27 people and the number keeps on growing. This is called exponential growth,” Dr Khuroo said.

He said that every virus has a super spreader like “we had in Kashmir, the two person’s one who died and another who had a travel history of Saudi Arabia.

“What these two persons did is that they didn’t follow R0 and that they infect hundreds. Even in South Korea, one woman infected 3000 people. Even though it was a disputed issue, but it has happened.  Here in Gund Jehangir area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district where one person spread the virus and today we have 126 positive cases,” he said.

Dr Khuroo said that Covid is different than SARS. “SARS never overloaded the health care facilities. When SARS came from China, it was from the Bats, but never overloaded the health care facilities as its R0 was less and about 1.3,” he said. “Today, Covid has overloaded our hospitals. In Italy, people died due to lack of ventilators and same happened in UK, Spain and New York to some extent as well. This is the property of the virus that it spreads so fast and so many people get into the hospital at a time,” he said. “It used to happen in Plague and smallpox which had a very high R0.”

He said that key to success and controlling the spread of Covid lies in reducing R0 and the doubling time of the virus.

“Today is April 28, and we have 28000 positive cases in India. When would the number double and reach 56000, I mean, in how many days, is called doubling time.

Urging people to follow four tools to prevent the spread of the virus, Dr Khuroo said that people must maintain social distancing, follow lockdown and avoid congregational gatherings, stay home, wear a face mask and wash hands frequently.

“With these tools, we can reduce the R0 and increase the doubling time. From 3 (RO) it has to come to below 1 at present.  Once it comes to below 1, that means if somebody is infected he gives it to none or maximum to one person.  You will have to increase the doubling time as much as possible to contain the virus,” he said. “If that happens, the virus will flatten over a period of time and it will get controlled.”

Asked whether there is any drug to treat the Covid 19 at present as claimed by US president Donal Trump that hydroxychloroquine was effective in treating the virus, Dr Khuroo said that as of now, no proved drug is available for the treatment of Virus.

He, however, said that vaccine is expected in September this year and that will be from Oxford. “Americans are also working on it and scientists and experts are also working on in at London,” he said.

Dr Khuroo ruled out that there was a community spread of Covid in Kashmir. “So far we are into primary spread, person to person. But once that happens, you will not have 28000, but 50 lakh cases in the country. Community spread will be a disaster. May God save us from it. If we relax like start going to masjids, attending marriage functions, offering funerals of deceased in large numbers, things are set to take an ugly shape,” he said. “We are fighting an invisible enemy, if we don’t take care, it will destroy the community.”

Author of more than 300 research papers that earned Dr Mohammad Sultan Khuroo national and international fame , it was the discovery of hepatitis E virus which established him as a discoverer world over .

His other contribution in the areas   of “Hepato-Biliary and Pancreatic Ascariasis”, “Hepatic Vein thrombosis in pregnancy”, “Portal Biliopathy”, “PAIR for Hydatid Liver” and “PPI in peptic ulcer bleeding  ”  brought him  into the world  League of Original researchers in the field  Medical science .

M S Khuroo was conferred with international award for discovery of Hepatitis E. He had received the award at a conference in Moscow, Russia.

The award was instituted in 2012 in the honor of late Dr Balayan by Chumakov Institute of Poliomyelitis and Viral Encephalitides, of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.  An international panel of scientists and medical professionals was constituted to select a person who has done seminal and monumental work in the field of Hepatitis E.

Prof Khuroo was the first International scientist to receive the prestigious award that includes a medal and a diploma certificate. (KINS)