Covid cases in India are on a rise, yet again. On Saturday, the country recorded a single-day rise of over 8,000 fresh Covid-19 cases after 103 days, pushing India's infection tally to 4,32,13,435.
The active cases now comprise 0.09 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.69 per cent. However, with a spike in cases, the world is yet to figure out how the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 disease, emerged and led to the pandemic.
As the increase in cases refuses to abate, many questions come up around the virus that remain unclear. Here are a few questions answered around what's happening to the virus:
Covid: A lab origin?
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday released a report saying "key pieces of data" to explain how the pandemic began are still missing and the WHO is "open to any and all scientific evidence that becomes available in the future to allow for comprehensive testing of all reasonable hypotheses", according to AP.
It quoted Jean-Claude Manuguerra, the co-chair of the 27-member advisory group behind the report, as saying that some scientists might be "allergic" to the idea of investigating the lab leak theory and they needed to be "open-minded" enough to examine it.
This is a sharp reversal of WHO's earlier position saying Covid-19's lab origin is "extremely unlikely". The WHO has been under severe criticism for over two years for prematurely junking the possibility of a lab origin and for taking the Chinese government's words for granted.
Besides the WHO report, the US intelligence community that investigated the Covid-19 origin at the order of US President Joe Biden had indicated a possibility of lab origin. There have been investigative journalistic reports that have highlighted that Chinese researchers in Wuhan were doing 'gain-of-function' research that many fear might have caused an accidental outbreak.
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No need for panic in current surge: Experts
Experts have said there is no need to panic amid the current surge as no new variant of concern has been found and the rise so far is limited to a few districts.
Besides non-adherence of Covid-appropriate behaviour and people being unenthusiastic about getting booster vaccine doses, experts flagged increased mobility due to the summer holidays, easing of travel restrictions both nationally and internationally and full-fledged opening up of economic activities as causes for the rise in infections.
"The infection is limited to metros and big cities with a high population density. The important thing is that most of the people who are getting infected these days are immunised and have common cold and a mild influenza-like illness," Dr N K Arora, Chairman of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), told PTI.
AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said there is no increase in hospitalisations and deaths with the rise in infections.
He told PTI, "So the rise in the number of cases is not a cause of worry at the moment. But we should not let our guard down and must focus on aggressive testing so as not to miss out on any emerging variant."
Covid and mental health
People are affected by Covid-19 infections differently. While some test negative in a week’s time and resume everyday life, others take longer to get back to their pre-Covid lives.
Testing negative for coronavirus is the first step towards recovery as symptoms such as fatigue and cough continue for some time. These symptoms are usually resolved in a few days. But that’s not the case with everyone.
Prolonged symptoms can affect your daily help. Physical and mental fatigue may hamper professional and personal life.
Studies have shown that Covid-19 also causes inflammation in the brain and deaths of brain cells. Microhemorrhages in the brain, which refers to small internal bleeding in the brain, have also been associated with Covid-19 infections.
Mental effects of Covid-19 go beyond brain fog, prolonged joint and chest pain, shortness of fatigue, and affect even a person’s dreams.
The isolation induced by the pandemic and further increased by long Covid infections have reduced interactions of people with the outside world. Some people have been cut off from the world to the extent that their mind is out of stimulus to create dreams. So they have dreams from old memories of school years or childhood or people they barely know now.
ALSO READ: What Is Long Covid? Know All Symptoms And How It Affects Your Mental Health
Covid and pregnancy
Women who get vaccinated against coronavirus during their pregnancy can pass on their antibodies to their babies, resulting in better protection against COVID-19 in early infancy, according to a new study from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study found effectiveness of 61 per cent in preventing hospitalisation among infants aged up to six months whose mothers got two doses of an mRNA vaccine during pregnancy.
When a person receives antibodies – rather than producing antibodies themselves, it’s a case of what’s called ‘passive immunity’.
Pregnant women pass on antibodies to babies in the last three months of their pregnancy through the placenta. Antibodies are also passed through breastmilk, which means that children who are breastfed have passive immunity for a longer period.
ALSO READ: Covid-19 And Pregnancy: Can Vaccine Antibodies Pass On From Mother To Baby?