In the first week of August, The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) invited a letter of intent for participation in the National Clinical Registry of Covid-19 patients. For this, ICMR is seeking participation of hospitals and health centres dedicated for treatment of coronavirus positive patients across the country, and the database will be a collective effort of the Health Ministry and The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
PGIMER is the Mentor Institute apart from among 14 other institutes across the country for the collection of information and treatment protocols of all Covid-19 patients, that will assist further studies related to the novel coronavirus.
PGIMER will be responsible for data collection in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Uttarakhand. According to the Council, there is a pressing need for collection of systematic data on clinical signs and symptoms, laboratory investigation, management protocols, clinical course of Covid-19, disease spectrum and outcomes of patients.
This project will take place over a period of one year and the Council believes it will be an invaluable tool for formulating patient management strategies, predicting disease severity, patient outcomes and helping health experts understand the disease at large.
Meanwhile, understanding the need for data to answer several questions on Covid-19, be it the course of disease, its scale, diagnosis, risk factors, medications, age groups affected etc, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has initiated a data collection project in GMSH-16, GMCH-32, and PGIMER, to provide deep insights about the epidemiology and response to Covid-19 in different countries of the world.
From new and confirmed cases to number of deaths, changes in disease over time, the response of public health centres, clinical trials and associated data, the on-going project aims to look closely at the various dimensions of the disease.
“This is an on-going project, and we began it in February, when the first few cases of Covid-19 were reported, with WHO officials visiting hospitals to get things started,” said Dr Rajat Vats, part of the team at GMSH-16.
Each Covid-19 positive case is documented in detail in a form, and each patient is given a COVID number, which gives the accurate number of positive cases in the city, region and country.
Apart from the basic information, Dr Vats, a physician, said that it is important to note the medical facility the patient visited before coming to a hospital for a test, to understand the line of diagnosis, treatment offered them. “In the initial months, the symptoms were mostly restricted to sore throat, cough, could, mild fever, but with the progression of the disease, we began observing breathlessness, acute body pain, weakness, fatigue and also how many cardiac patients were affected by the virus. These documentations are vital for the medical fraternity and researchers to understand how the disease is changing,” explained Dr Vats.
In the last one month, data indicates that 50 per cent of the patients who tested positive for the disease were asymptomatic, and came for voluntary tests because they were either exposed to a family member, neighbour who was Covid-19 positive or were in close contact with a patient. This data, added the doctor, leads to quick and effective contact tracing, and if isolated and treated on time, can check the spread of the disease.
Data here reveals that a number of people with a travel history to Delhi tested positive, with the data of sampling and results giving a clear indication of the number of tests, spread of disease in various parts of the city, recovery rate etc.
“The exhaustive data, which goes to the nodal officer, gives a clear indication of the number of people positive in different sectors, and on the basis of these, containment zones are formed. If people don’t come forward for testing, because of fear or social stigma, we cannot do contact tracing and contain the spread. It is paramount that colonies, where physical distancing is less, literacy and awareness levels are low and contact with each other is high, testing must be ramped up, with Rapid Antigen testing giving us quicker results and done mostly on asymptomatic patients,” he said, while adding, “flu clinics are important points for us to understand the pattern of the disease, and also treatment plans, with milder and asymptomatic patients given basic treatments and many opting for home isolation. We have also seen that those who don’t ignore their symptoms, come for testing and seek early treatment have better recovery rates, so the need of the hour is to spread awareness about the disease and the urgent need to wear masks to prevent it.”
Vats, adding that the administration and police must ensure physical distancing at public places and adherence to wearing of masks.
“It is important that we take it as a personal responsibility to check the spread by following the rules,” summed up the doctor.
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