Priyanka Chopra Jonas, on Tuesday, put forth some pertinent questions about the COVID-19 outbreak to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO and Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s Technical Lead for Covid-19, through an Instagram live. She asked them questions sent to her by her fans. Dr Tedros and Dr Maria answered questions on whether the virus is airborne to if patients can form immunity to the virus.
Here are the key takeaways from the conversation.
People with an underlying condition need to take extra care
The chat started with a question from her husband Nick Jonas that as he has Type-1 Diabetes and Priyanka suffers from asthma, what precautions should people with such ailments take. In response to his question, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said, “The best bet for people with underlying conditions is that they limit exposure as much as they can. People who are healthy need to practice social distancing as well. They need to understand that they are not invincible. If they protect themselves, they protect others who are more susceptible to the disease.”
Follow ‘The five’
Dr Maria talks about the new campaign launched by FIFA, the international governing body of football and the WHO which talks about the five steps to kick out coronavirus. She said, “Everybody should follow the fives rules. They are – washing your hands, proper coughing etiquette, not touching your face, physical distance and staying at home if you feel sick.”
The virus is not airborne
“The virus spreads through fomites. These are surfaces with respiratory droplets on them,” said Dr Maria. “Simply touching a surface also does not mean that you have the infection. Unless, you touch your face, mouth or eyes with infected hands, you are not likely to catch the disease. Which makes hand washing even more important,” she said. Dr Maria said that the virus can stay on surfaces like steel for hours.
You may develop immunity
When asked about whether a patient who has had the COVID-19 develops immunity against the disease, Dr Van Kerkhove said, “We do not have definitive data yet. However, we expect patients to develop some kind of immunity. We are not sure of the strength and longevity of the immunity.”
There may be a vaccine soon
“We have started the process of making vaccines for the COVID-19 infection,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We already have vaccine candidates. However, it might take 12-18 months to make the vaccine and make it available to everyone,” he added.
The weather may not have any effect on the virus
“We need to understand that it is a virus and not bacteria,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove. “We have seen its existing in both cold and warm weather. The question is about the onset of summer in the northern hemisphere. We do not expect the virus to behave any differently, however, our behaviour does change as summer comes. We tend to leave the house less and that may have an effect,” she added.