RT-PCR Test of Covid-19

Of all the Covid-19 tests that came to light in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic situation globally, the RT-PCR Test stood out as the ultimate Covid-19 test. Its full-form is reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. RT-PCR Test, when invented, used to cost as much as Rs. 5000 and was unaffordable by common people. However, as production grew, following advancement in technology, the price of RT-PCR Test has come down to as low as Rs. 300. In this article, let us see how this test works.

The sample is collected using a nose swab from your throat and nose. A swab is a thin, flexible stick that is inserted in your nostrils and throat to collect the virus. Covid-19 virus, if present, will get accumulated in the stick. The sample then reaches the laboratory, where the virus is extracted. The extraction process isolated genetic material from the sample, including genetic material of any viruses that may be present. The third step is the PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, in which millions of copies of the virus are produced for detection. Without the PCR, the number of viruses in the sample is too small to be detected. If Covid-19 is present, then the chemicals used in the process produce fluorescent light. It is the signal to suggest that the sample contains the Covid-19 virus.

A positive test result means that it is very likely you have Covid-19. If you test positive, don’t panic. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider, and follow the quarantine and self-isolation rules. Most people will recover following mild or no symptoms. A negative test result means you are unlikely to be affected by Covid-19 at the time of the test. However, you still have to follow all precautions given by the Government in your state, as you are still vulnerable to Covid-19 at the time of test or afterwards. Due to high sensitivity, you may test Covid-19 positive if you had been infected by Covid-19 a few weeks back and have recovered from it since then.

RT-PCR Test has numerous advantages:

  1. It delivers a report within 24 hours.
  2. It is the most reliable and accurate Covid-19 test, which can detect even residual virus, such as remnants of a virus from a near-past infection.
  3. Collection of sample is also hassle-free, and it could be processed in railway stations, entry and exit checkpoints, office buildings, that is it does not consume a large space and do not require extremely skilled labour.

Advantages of the RT-PCR Test made us possible to test for Covid-19 at tourist destinations at a minimal cost and also tour hassle-free in most tourist destinations in the country.

Written by – Himadri Paul

4 Days Work a Week

5 days a week work may seem boring for many employees. After long hours of duty daily, getting only 2 days a week as holiday is not enough for many workers, who are doing laborious work. Also, the working hours per week seem to have exceeded what is required in this modern, fast-paced and digital world. That is why some countries are looking forward to either reducing the working hours a week or giving Friday or Monday a holiday along with the usual weekend.

The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and work from home conditions is said to be the inspiration for exploring the possibility of a reduction in working hours. Some countries and private companies have explored the possibility of either a 4 working day week pattern, or reduction in working hours per day, or even giving a flexible approach deciding the duty time. All possibilities were tested by several private firms during the pandemic period when most of the workers opted to work from home. Currently, Germany has the least working hours a week at less than 30 hours a week.

Though several small firms had started reduced working hours or 4-day a week trials, the first major success was found in that of Iceland. Though the trials started before the pandemic, it took one and a half years to conclude finally. In July 2021, Iceland released its report on the trials. Iceland concluded that reducing working hours would result in an overwhelming success for the employees and the working class. Though the production did not increase as anticipated, sufficient cost can be reduced in terms of electricity bill, manpower, maintenance for offices, and transportation cost for employees.

The trial was not entirely on 4-day work but also covered 5-day work with reduced working hours and flexible timings of duty. In the case of 4-day work, Friday or Monday was declared a holiday for employees on a rotational basis. In all cases, work hours were reduced from 40 hours a week to 35-36 hours a week, though it is alleged that some 5-day work requiring longer duty time got decreased by no more than 7 mins a day or 35 mins a week in private sectors and 13 mins a day or 65 mins a week in the public sector. The salary of employees were not decreased. Some researchers have stated that the report was greatly overstated, and the working limits were not strictly followed in many cases.

The most significant positive idea from the Icelandic trials is employee satisfaction. Every employee is more satisfied with the current working conditions, with same pay. While the managers and officers are satisfied that there is no decrease in output from each employee, the employees have most benefited from the new working conditions. In 4-day work, a 3-day weekend also means greater time for travelling and rejuvenating the mind. Apart from Saturday and Sunday, the extra holiday on Monday or Friday worked the best for employees. Flexible duty timings is a significant respite to employees living far away, who have to get up too early. Now employees can attend any evening party, or wake up late, which was previously not possible in rigid working-hour conditions. It also gives the workers to take break from work, indulge in exercise, and relax.

Though we should never rely on one report, the report certainly shows promising results that can be carried forward in other countries. Japan and New Zealand have also started trials of 4-day week work, reduction in working hours, or flexible shifts on a large scale basis. India has also expressed its willingness for a 4-day work week, albeit at the expense of increasing working hours a day. As the world changed from 6 days a week work to 5 days at the turn of the millennium, the time has come that many companies and public sectors look forward to switching to 4 days a week work in the near future.

To know more about the details of findings on the report, click here.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Did Covid-19 Originate from Lab?

Last 2019, a new deadly virus originated from the city of Wuhan in China. China immediately claimed that the virus is of natural origin, possibly originated from bats, and then transmitted via a carrier animal to the wet market of Wuhan. Incidentally, a biosafety level 4 virus research laboratory, which is the biggest in China and entire Asia, is located in Wuhan. This speculates the notion of whether the virus has indeed come from nature or it is human-made.

Early 2021, the USA claimed, based on newly obtained previously undisclosed information, that several virologists of Wuhan Institute of Virology had fallen sick in autumn 2019 with seasonal flu illness with similar symptoms to Covid-19. This may be an indication that Covid-19 first originated from that lab and then spread elsewhere. US had also cited several whistle-blowing incidents in the past where it is claimed that a deadly virus similar to SARS (pandemic of 2003) was manufactured at Wuhan Institute of Virology. However, China has repeatedly rejected these claims and has maintained that Sars-Cov-2 (known today as Covid-19) is of natural origin. China also dismissed the fact that any of the Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers were infected by any disease.

For its part, China has also claimed that there were incidents of virus outbreaks in various places in the USA and Italy that pre-date the origin of the virus in Wuhan. It has been cited that the virus may have entered its boundary via frozen foods or packaging. Incidentally, the virus is believed to have originated from the Wuhan wet market, where there are regular supplies of frozen foods. One such example may be a short-lived outbreak in Beijing that has a different strain than the Wuhan strain and a similar strain to that in the USA or Europe. The Beijing outbreak is claimed to have originated from imported frozen fish and meat that are infected by the virus.

WHO came forward and published a report on 31st March 2021 regarding the origins of Sars-Cov-2. It said that markets selling animals, alive or dead, are the most probable source of origin of Sars-Cov-2. Sars-Cov-2 is one of the millions of coronaviruses found in bats that have entered into an intermediate animal which was sold at Huanan wet market in Wuhan. Scientists say that though conclusions make sense, they failed to satisfy those who believed that Covid-19 (Sars-Cov-2) originated from the Wuhan lab.

Some of the unanswered questions were what is the intermediate animal between the bat and the humans, when did the first Covid-19 case occur, why were the other theories, such as the US and China claims rejected. Scientists have concluded that even after WHO’s report, research must seek evidence in all possible conclusions. Research is still on, producing more and more puzzling facts day by day.

Recent claims seem too far-fetched by any average person, but there are growing speculations that the Chinese invented the virus to spread worldwide and make substantial economic gains. Brazil’s president has termed the outbreak of Sars-Cov-2 as pre-planned biological warfare by China for financial gains. The US has gone one step further, saying that the People’s Liberation Army of China predicted that the next world war would be fought with bioweapons. It is to be noted that the USA and Brazil are one of the worst affected countries by Covid-19. Though hard to believe, both Brazil and the US have claimed to have concrete evidence to prove their claims.

There is evidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was researching widely on SARS-like viruses that can be used to create a pandemic situation in other countries. Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said that Sars-Cov-2 was an accidental leakage of the many bioweapons produced at the Biosafety Level 4 laboratory. Sars-Cov-2 was prepared as a bioweapon after seeing the effects of SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2009 in various other countries that also originated in China.

In conclusion, it can be drawn that though many countries are blaming China for producing a worldwide pandemic, it also undermines that bioweapons, if ever used, will be the biggest threat to humankind and the human race and should never be used. Out of control of Sars-Cov-2 makes us believe that a war fought with bioweapons may affect the weapon host itself. Going by the WHO’s conclusion of the natural origin of Sars-Cov-2, it’s time the whole world should sit together and find a lasting solution to end the Covid-19 pandemic once and for all.

Written by – Himadri Paul