About 9 in 10 people have lost some degree of vision during the last two years of Covid pandemic, health experts said on Monday. It is because most of them skipped their regular eye check-ups and follow-ups due to pandemic-induced lockdowns, fear among others.
Retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration have few or minor symptoms at first and are only detected by eye examination or a screening. These conditions have the tendency to create severe damage to the eyes if not timely intervened with.
"Unfortunately, 90 per cent of patients lost some degree of vision due poor follow ups, during the first and the second wave of Covid, especially the ones suffering from wet AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration).
These patients mostly missed taking their Intravitreal injection, owing to which the diseases progressed rapidly," Dr Ajay Dudani, CEO Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Mumbai Retina Centre, told IANS.
"Owing to the fear of Covid, we have witnessed a decline in patients coming for a regular eye check-up in the past 3-4 months. This has resulted in delays in diagnosis and treatment, which can compromise vision in the long run," added Dr Chaitra Jayadev, Senior Vitreo-retinal Consultant, Narayana Nethralaya Eye Institute, Bengaluru.
Doctors said that early detection and treatment is key to control the disease and prevent any loss in vision. The longer one puts off visiting the clinic, the worse the eye health will get.
"While we should take precautions during this Covid wave, patients should not delay visits for macular degeneration or diabetic macular edema, unless the patient has Covid symptoms," Dr Raja Narayan, the General Secretary, Vitreoretinal Society of India, told IANS.
"With the third wave, we are seeing a similar pattern from the past, as patient visits, especially amongst elders, have dropped by nearly 50 per cent. Since the retina cannot be replaced, missing an injection, or treatment follow ups, can magnify the eye disease," Dudani said. Doctors also encouraged patients to take up teleconsultations.
There are vision tests that one can undertake sitting at home, whose reports can be sent to the doctor for examination and further intervention.
"If patients experience symptoms such as blurred vision, sudden loss of vision or black spots in the visual field, they need to go for an immediate eye check-up, as these could be signs of diabetic retinopathy. To prevent worsening of such complications, diabetics must ensure that their sugar levels are under control," Jayadev said.
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India's Ayush industry is expanding globally and its market size has grown significantly during the last two years of the Covid pandemic as the domestic trends re-established the traditional system of medicine, nearer mainstream medicines. But can it, and especially, its major constituent ayurveda, capture a bigger share in the global wellness market?
Ayush, which combines ayurveda, yoga, unani, siddha - all indigenous to India and among the world's oldest healthcare systems - and homeopathy, touts a holistic approach to health,
Ayurveda, central to the Ayush, is among the world's oldest traditional medical practice, but is beyond it, stressing the requirement of healthy and natural lifestyle, and an organic interconnectedness among body, mind, and spirit.
The approach of Ayush systems which aims at immunity promoting interventions as an effective, safer, accessible, and affordable way is the reason for their increased use globally during the pandemic.
India's AYUSH has reported tremendous growth in the last few years because of growing global and domestic demand, enabled by research and development in the sector.
According to a report from Ayush Ministry, with a turnover of $18.1 billion, the market size of the Indian AYUSH industry, as a whole, has grown by 17 per cent during 2014-2020.
Among its different product segments, plant derivatives experienced 21 per cent growth in the same period, followed by nutraceuticals (20.5 per cent), pharmaceuticals (15.8 per cent), plant extracts 14.7 per cent and herbal plants (14.3 per cent) as per the report.
The Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) report titled 'AYUSH Sector in India: Prospects and Challenges', says that in terms of the global share, India has grown faster in the AYUSH market as compared to the world and accounts for about 2.8 per cent of the market, which is likely to hold even though disruptions in production are not ruled out.
"According to the RIS report, the market size of AYUSH in India has registered a growth of 17 per cent between 2014 and 2020. Despite the global slowdown in economic activity in 2020, the market for AYUSH is estimated to reach $23.3 billion in 2022.
Research and research in the Ayush sector is also being promoted with more comprehensive results to be revealed soon," said the ministry's media advisor, Sanjay Dev.
The Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation Ltd (IMPCL), the public sector manufacturing unit of the Ayush Ministry, has recorded a turnover of Rs 164.33 crore (tentative) for financial year 2020-21. This is the highest in the company's history and an all-time high profit of approximately Rs 12 crore is reported for the year.
In 2019-20, the company's revenue was Rs 97 crore, as per the ministry.
Ayurveda sector in India has registered 17 per cent growth which is consistent with the growth trajectory of the global ayurveda Industry. As estimated by the International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group, the ayurveda market is expected to grow by around 15 per cent during 2020-2025.
The study has estimated the global market size of the herbal sector which was estimated at $657.5 billion in 2020 and is likely to touch $746.9 billion by 2022.
According to the Data Bridge Market Research study, the global herbal medicinal market is expected to reach $426.43 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 5.34 per cent during 2021-2028.
Available market research on herbal and ayurveda medicine sector says that ayurveda constitutes a small portion of the total herbal market, but its growth potential is much higher.
The global traditional and complementary medicine market has been valued at around $360 billion. However, only a minor share of that market gos to ayurveda, between $7.2 billion-$9.6 billion.
The rising interest in ayurveda showcases potential of Indian medicine systems to be a global leader with a proper strategic vision and operational efficiency in the sector. (By Avinash Prabhakar)
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Paris- Three doses of a Covid vaccine may not be able to curb the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid, warned Ugur Sahin, CEO of Germany-based BioNTech.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the variant, known to escape vaccine immunity, has spread to about 90 countries.
"We must be aware that even triple-vaccinated are likely to transmit the disease. It is obvious we are far from 95 per cent effectiveness that we obtained against the initial virus," Euronews quoted Sahin as saying to the French daily Le Monde on Monday. BioNTech partnered with US drugmaker Pfizer to develop the two-dose revolutionary Covid jab, based on mRNA technology.
Despite this, Sahin noted that early data from the UK and South Africa is providing us with "reassuring information".
The latest research from South Africa, where Omicron was first reported, suggested that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offered 70 per cent effectiveness in reducing the risk of hospitalisation. Israeli researchers have also found that the booster doses of the vaccine works against Omicron.
"There will be a loss of effectiveness against Omicron over time, it's very likely, but it's still to be measured how quickly. I will not base predictions on preliminary laboratory data but on real-life data, which is much more appropriate," the German immunologist said.
Sahin said testing for Covid-19 is important, especially for the elderly and during winter, as are other protective measures such as mask-wearing, adding, "otherwise we will not be able to control the rapid expansion of this new variant".
The German company is already designing a coronavirus vaccine adapted to the new variant, using Omicron's spike protein and its 32 mutations as an antigen. Sahin announced this should be ready by March, the report said.
"We remain on track with our 100-day target, which means we should be able to deliver our first suitable vaccines to Omicron in March, subject to regulatory approval," he said.
Some researchers have voiced concern about the effect of these new vaccines as instead of boosting new immune defences, they could risk boosting inadequate ones.
"This principle is an unproven hypothesis, personally, I don't think this is a real problem. The immune system has high adaptability and plasticity, and should be able to activate both, strengthening existing immune responses while generating new antibodies," Sahin said, adding "but we will obviously have to assess it."
Scientists at WHO have also predicted that Omicron has "substantial growth advantage" over the Delta variant and it will soon take over Delta. It is still unclear how effective vaccines are against the new variant, the WHO said.
Meanwhile, Moderna, which has also produced an mRNA vaccine, on Monday said that a booster dose of its vaccine appeared to be protective against Omicron.
Moderna said that its research so far showed that a 50 microgram dose of its vaccine, which is the current amount for a booster jab, increased the level of antibodies 37-fold, compared with two doses.
It also said a full dose of 100 micrograms boosted antibody levels 83-fold, it said.
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विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन ने कहा है कि ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट अप्रत्याशित तरीके से फैल रहा है। डब्ल्यूएचओ के महानिदेशक ट्रेडोस ए घेब्रेयसस ने कहा कि कुल 77 देशों ने अब तक ओमिक्रॉन के मामले दर्ज किए हैं, लेकिन वास्तविकता यह है कि कुछ देशों में इस वैरिएंट का पता लगाना अभी बाकी है।
घेब्रेयसस ने कहा कि ओमिक्रॉन उस दर से फैल रहा है जो हमने किसी पिछले वैरिएंट के साथ नहीं देखी है। मुझे बहुत स्पष्ट रूप से कहना चाहता हूं कि अकेले टीके किसी भी देश को इस संकट से बाहर नहीं निकाल पाएंगे। जरूरी है कि हम मास्क, डिस्टेंसिंग, वेंटिलेशन और हाथ की स्वच्छता का खास ख्याल रखें।
उन्होंने कहा कि देशों के बीच कोविड -19 टीकाकरण की दरों में बहुत बड़ा अंतर है। डॉ ट्रेडोस ने कहा कि 41 देश अभी भी अपनी 10 प्रतिशत आबादी का टीकाकरण नहीं कर पाए हैं। 98 देश 40 प्रतिशत तक नहीं पहुंचे हैं। हम एक ही देश में जनसंख्या समूहों के बीच महत्वपूर्ण असमानताओं को भी देखते हैं।
भारत में, ओमिकॉन वैरिएंट का आंकड़ा हर दिन बढ़ रहा है। दिल्ली ने मंगलवार को ओमिक्रॉन के चार और मामले दर्ज किए, जिससे कुल संख्या छह हो गई। हालांकि, ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट से संक्रमित एक व्यक्ति को अस्पताल से छुट्टी मिल गई है।
आठ और व्यक्तियों ने मंगलवार को महाराष्ट्र में ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट के लिए सकारात्मक परीक्षण किया है। महाराष्ट्र में ओमिक्रॉन प्रकार के मामलों की कुल संख्या अब 28 है। जिन अन्य राज्यों में इस प्रकार की रिपोर्ट की गई है, उनमें गुजरात, राजस्थान, दिल्ली, कर्नाटक, केरल और आंध्र प्रदेश और केंद्र शासित प्रदेश चंडीगढ़ शामिल हैं।
यह भी पढ़े► कोरोना के मरीजों में सांस लेने में दिक्कतें दिल की बीमारियों का संकेत
Jerusalem- The Omicron variant, with more than 30 mutations on its spike protein, may not be as dangerous as the Delta and Alpha and other variants of coronavirus, which has so far claimed more than five millions lives across the world. However, the variant appears to be more contagious, said a scientist from Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Israel.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Omicron has spread to nearly 38 countries, but no deaths have yet been reported.
"We have to say this with a lot of caution, but if we look at the currently available information, there is reason to believe that the variant is spreading fast, but maybe it is not so dangerous," Prof. Dror Mevorach, a senior physician was quoted as saying to Jerusalem Post.
South Africa's Tshwane District Omicron Variant Patient Profile showed that 80 per cent of hospital admissions in the previous two weeks were people below age 50, the vast majority of whom did not require oxygen support.
This can be explained in several ways, including the lower age of the patients, or that the course of the Omicron variant is milder, Mevorach said.
Some experts have also suggested that if Omicron is more infectious but milder, it could make corona more similar to the flu.A
Mevorach agreed, saying that "it would really be good news for the world. I think that we have had indications of vaccinated people getting infected, but it appears that their disease is mild".
If this is so, he said different scenarios might emerge.
"We might need to accept that some people are going to get sick, and treat them with the antiviral treatments that are about to become available, or the vaccines might be slightly tweaked to be more effective," he said. "However, I'm not really sure that we will need to do it. The first option might be good enough."
Mevorach also expressed optimism that the protection granted by the booster will last for a long time, the report said.
"What I have seen in immunological studies is that the booster really increases the antibodies, and I think it will give a longer-lasting immunity," he said.
Meanwhile, the number of Omicron Covid-19 variant cases in Israel have rose from seven to 11, the Israeli Health Ministry has said in a statement.
While the WHO said on December 3 that it had still not seen any reports of deaths related to Omicron, the new variant's spread has led to warnings that it could cause more than half of Europe's Covid-19 cases in the next few months.
A preliminary study by researchers in South Africa, where the variant was first reported on November 24, suggests it is three times more likely to cause reinfections compared to the Delta or Beta strains.
South African doctors said there had been a spike in children under five admitted to hospital since Omicron emerged, but stressed it was too early to know if young children were particularly susceptible. (Agency)
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified the new Covid variant detected in southern Africa this week as the 'Variant of Concern' following the Technical Advisory Group meeting on Friday.
"Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a Variant of Concern and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron", said the global health body in a statement.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9, 2021.
The WHO has asked the countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database. The WHO has reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of Covid-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.
The WHO said that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern.
Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage, said the WHO.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus. The TAG-VE was convened on 26 November 2021 to assess the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. (agency)
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