New Delhi: According to Martin Schalling, Professor of Medical Genetics, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, COVID-19 is clearly not the last pandemic the world has seen, and India has the potential and the mechanism. fight against the advent of a new pandemic
Speaking to IANS, Schalling said that Covid is the first major pandemic in 100 years, but definitely not the last.
“We’re going to have more pandemics and how we prepare ourselves to not be as vulnerable and helpless as in the early stages of Covid-19 is key,” said Schalling.
“And I think there is a lot that India can contribute – both in the sphere of technology and in the sphere of digital health – to alleviate the problems of the new pandemic,” he said.
Schalling, who was in India for a conference organized by Religare Initiatives on the occasion of World Health Day, also explained the mechanisms of post-Covid syndromes, which have also been known for a long time. He also shared his opinion on the curious origins of COVID-19.
Excerpts from the interview:
How long can you explain covid? Is it just ‘brain fog’ as ambiguously described by WHO?
There is a lot that is not known about post-Covid right now. In addition to the brain, it affects immunity, heart rate, and other body organs. This is a virus that can infect almost all human organs. And as a result, you can get signals from many different organs.
More specifically, it has recently been discovered that when a virus infects brain cells, it activates a type of cleaning cell in the brain called microglia. As a result, it begins a process known as pruning, which reduces the amount of connectivity between nerve cells, the so-called synapses.
We believe that the case where you see cognitive decline and brain fog from post-Covid is probably related to this process where you lose connectivity modes.
Are there any medical tests to prevent long term Covid conditions?
Similar to how drugs help control the activity of the immune system to kill the bad effects of Covid, you can imagine that reducing the activity of pruning or these microglia in a way that further reduces the effect of brain dysfunction.
Having said that, I don’t think we currently have an arsenal of drugs that are really effective for post-covid problems.
It is more about planning each problem and then trying to support as much as possible with rehabilitation and recovery in this state, so there is a lot of research that needs to be done.
Do you think the next pandemic will be something related to zoonotic spillover or something else?
We have absolutely no idea. As you know, we have had few outbreaks of viruses like the SARS-Covid virus, say in the decades or so before Covid-19.
The new pandemic does not have to be related to these viruses, for he could know, many zoonotic risk factors as humans are increasingly interacting and moving deeper and deeper into places that may have been isolated before.
There is always this risk of spillover. But viruses or other infections are also effective through genetic changes that can be spontaneous.
While a viral source is likely, it is not necessarily the only one that can cause a new pandemic.
How can we tackle the new pandemic? What role can India play?
We need to gather as much knowledge as we can about what to do, such as in the medical field, and how we generally handle pandemics or catastrophic events, so that we are ready to act.
At the same time, I think digital medical solutions such as telemedicine and digital monitoring devices will become very important in the future.
India can be a major contributor to developing the digital tools of tomorrow. He is convinced that this is the major business of tomorrow in medicine.
I think India’s strength lies, among many other things, in information technology, and a strong global trend towards, you know, creating what can be called a ‘digital hospital’.
What do you think about the origins of Covid?
I think it is well known that the origin of Covid was specifically from China. However, there is great speculation as to whether something released from a laboratory or recombination occurs naturally or such, and I honestly don’t know.
Personally, it seems to me that what we can say is that it is not a voluntary dismissal. So I think you can forget the conspiracy theories and the ideas that someone is out to hurt someone – which was clearly not the case.
It could have been an accident, but most likely, this was a natural occurrence that happened somewhere in the vicinity of Wuhan in 2019.