Sara Chats : Hey. Sara here. I am bringing in lots of stories to you every week to keep you engaged. But in ‘corona times’, I know there are many questions that we (teens, pre teens, little ones) have about what is going on. And there is too much information online. So I am glad I got mine answered from my cooler, older friend Dr. Harsh. He is a cool scientist , IIT professor and on a mission with ‘Scientists beyond borders’ to setup a scientific team to help common people understand COVID 19 better. And he has promised to answer any of yours. Just post them in the comments section below.
PS- Have you seen so many memes and videos of parents complaining about having the kids home. Its hard for them, but also for us. Shall we have some fun too? Send me photos, stories, anything you want to share about what you are upto through the day.
#Sarachats: Explaining Corona Virus to Kids. With Dr. Harsh Chaturvedi
Dr. Harsh Chaturvedi is a faculty at IIT Guwahati and specializes in
Nano technology. As part of ‘Scientists beyond borders’ COVID-19 he is working on the goal to setup a scientific team to share correct information regarding COVID19 to common people. A Ramanujan fellow, Harsh is an alumnus of Visveswarya Technological University and University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Yes, he is a total nerd but also a cool one.
1) I heard some of my friends say that more people die of accidents and snakebites in India than expected through Corona. Then why are we panicking now?
Your friend is right to a certain extent. Yes, many people die of accidents in India and the Corona virus has a low fatality ratio (the number of people who would die if they contract it). But road accidents do not spread to others and snakebites are not contagious. However, infectious diseases like COVID-19 spread, and transmit in a population like wildfire.
Transferred from one person to another, germs infect more and more people in the process. Also these accidents are spread out through the year and don’t all come once together. COVID-19 is infectious and can make thousands of people sick around the same time, putting extraordinary
pressure on our medical resources- hospitals, doctors, nurses, equipment etc.
2) How exactly does the virus make us sick? They say that 80% will just have symptoms like a regular flu- cough and cold.
Yes, most people will only have a minor cold or so. And the balance would require hospitalisation.( The exact statistics is constantly evolving as we are discovering more about the virus) The affliction caused by the virus is just a cluster of severe respiratory illness. This could aggravate into dyspnea, difficulty in breathing and pneumonia. The critical stage could develop into acute respiratory distress syndrome. Most of these are treatable, provided we have adequate ventilators, ECMO machines and trained medical professionals. Again, it is the pressure on making these available for those who need to be hospitalized at the same time that is the problem. And remember for India, the base is a massive population of 13.8 Cr. Therefore, the actual problem with this pandemic is not the difficulty of medical care, but the exponentially increasing number of new cases each day that would cry for medical help.
3) Wow. This all sounds rather grim. Is there nothing we can do fix the problem?
Yes. You can. Simple answer- Break the chain. Stop the high transmission rate i.e. prevent the virus from one person to another. Viruses need a host to survive. The virus can survive in an infected person only for the incubation period. For novel coronavirus, it is about 14 days. Thus, this virus (just like every other virus) will need new hosts to survive. If an infected person is
identified early and placed in quarantine, s/he cannot spread.
Now there is a catch. Not all infected persons show typical symptoms. Just because you are not sick, doesn’t mean you are not spreading the virus. Further, most of the symptoms are very similar to seasonal flu that we need an additional test to confirm coronavirus infection. Keeping safe distance and washing hands thoroughly with soap for 20 seconds and covering our mouths
and nose when coughing and sneezing will help slow the pace of the spread of the germ and break the chain.
4) Why are we being told to maintain a distance of 1 meter if we must step out to buy groceries?
Studies show that the novel coronavirus can travel only about a meter in air as compared to 100 meters range for airborne disease like measles. Also it can survive only for 3 hours in air. So if you are compelled to step out of your house, say to purchase essentials like milk or grocery, maintain a distance of one meter, to avoid the spread of novel coronavirus, now makes sense,
doesn’t it? Break the chain, it all boils down to that.
Sara: Thanks for answering my questions crisply. I get what you are saying. I also understand that we survive when we play together as a team. And when we are kind to those on our team who need a little help right now (our domestic staff, parents, the elderly) .
Here is the link to another great conversation my mom made me watch by her favourite host Trevor Noah and Dr. Fauci in the US. And now lets get on and beat this virus.
Dr.Harsh Chaturvedi has answered all the above questions directly or vetted the extracts from this link he referred to as a credible source by a fellow scientist. He is happy to answer any other questions you may have. Just leave them in the comments section below.