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HomeHEALTHCOVID 19Corona is not a joke # 2

Corona is not a joke # 2

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 “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sūn Wu (also known as Sun Tzu or Chang Qing) the author of an ancient Chinese book on military strategy called “The Art of War” is supposed to be an authority on military science how it can used to bargain for peace.

In the above statement he makes a valid observation that you can only fight an enemy you know as well as your own strengths and weaknesses. It is equally bad if you just know yourself but not the enemy or his capacity to engage you in a protracted battle. Likewise he suggests that if you know yourself but not the enemy- you are sure to lose.

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This is the gist of his profound knowledge.

The point to be noted is that as long as Corona or COVID- 19 is our enemy No. # 1, we should know the extent of harm that its can cause and how we can counter attack and give it such a good beating that it dare not cross our path even in future.

Coming back to where we should have started since Corona or its new variant COVID- 19 has been identified as the enemy standing in front of us, it should be much easier for us to isolate and immobilize it – unlike the past when we were boxing in the dark without even knowing where our punches were landing, if at all.

We now we are a shade better because we can see the enemy clearly on our radar screen and confident than before that it is not undefeatable. It is also a relief to know that we can neutralize it – without going too far from our comfort zone. Each passing day is a new lesson giving us an insight into the speed, intensity, and magnitude of problem and the best possible way to limit, control and knock out, the Corona virus.

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What we know today may not account for much but is definitely a shade better than few months before and enough to locate, identify, aim, and shoot – making it easier than before to kill the Corona all its new versions like the COVID-19 virus at the right time or place.

Diagnostic – available but how reliable and effective?

Don’t get carried away. Maybe because something is available does not make it the ideal, best and the only option. There can be no two opinions about the fact that diagnostic tests are very much required. Till a few months ago there was hardly any diagnostic in the market to identify and positively confirm the presence of COVID- 19.

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Not just availability – but even the ability, accuracy, and reliability of tests to distinguish the condition and health of a target that matters. Diagnostic accuracy is the sum effect of quantified discriminative potential and a set of curves and ratios like sensitivity, specificity, predictive values.

Different scientific and diagnostic procedures are meant to test different parameters. Their predictive ability is always not the same and they may also contradict each other. Mere availability of a test kit or lab in the market is not an indicator of its sensitivity and accuracy to focus on a spectrum new and emerging diseases about which nothing much is known even within the scientific community.

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Ideally a diagnostic test or procedure should answer the following questions – How does this test differentiate between the conditions of interest like state of health, likelihood or type of disease;  stage of the disease and the competence or ability to a qualified and trained technician to perform the test with the same level of accuracy each and every time.

To weaken or suppress the transmission of Corona and its new form COVID-19 virus we need to first understand its epidemiology. Diagnostic tests can help — quick and early detection of the virus before it enters our body and starts dictating terms – like a roadside goon. The scientific investigation and diagnostic drill is the best and only way to prevent the transmission not just COVID-19 but a whole galaxy of viruses that wreck havoc exfoliating from the lone individual to the community.

But leave aside the equipment and trained technicians for confirmatory testing for COVID 19 a newly discovered vector of disease, we don’t even have the required quantities of laboratories salts and reagents to test even diseases which have been around for nearly last one decade or more.

Since the day novel Corona virus was first reported in Wuhan, China, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists and genetic technology experts are trying to contain the outbreak and explosion of the virus known as 2019-nCoV.

Analyses of the viral genome is already providing clues about origin, outbreak and treatment regime or protocol to detect the infection early and weed it quickly before it leads to counterproductive and irreparable damage. Maybe this will also help us know what’s sustaining the outbreak that is rapidly spreading from animals to humans or via human-to-human transmission.

If they succeed- we would soon have the answer about timing of the first cases and how they become uncontrollable even before the different stakeholder could take stock and start preventive barricading. By the time they could even think what they should do- the outbreak which started as a stray viral infection from a lone infected animal– a whole lot of animals and human beings were infected.

This will open new doors for the researchers monitoring the genome to study how 2019-nCoV is changing and also provide a road map for developing a diagnostic test and a vaccine.

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Lt. Gen. K K Aggarwal, AVSM, SM, VSM
Lt. Gen. K K Aggarwal, AVSM, SM, VSM
Lt Gen Kapil Aggarwal retired as Director General Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME). A Post Graduate from IIT Kharagpur, Gen Aggarwal was Commandant Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (MCEME) Secunderabad which conducts post-graduate technical training courses in Mechanical, Electronics, Communication, Microwave and Computer Engineering. He also served as Chairman Army Pay Commission Cell, providing the inputs required by the 7th Pay Commission which articulated the pay, allowances and pension of approx. 12 lakh personnel in different rank, grade and trades. Gen Aggarwal also served as Technical Adviser to the Government of Mauritius – for close to three years.


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