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Lung damage to bilateral pneumonia: New COVID mutant strain escape immune response, hit Kashmir’s younger population

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Srinagar:  “Her sudden death has left a permanent void in our heart. Our life has become meaningless now,” said the family member of a 25-year-old female who passed away a few weeks ago due to severe COVID-induced pneumonia.

A doctor treating her at SMHS Hospital said she was admitted in extremely serious condition and her oxygen saturation level had dropped to 30. 

 

“Although the RCT –PCR was negative, her chest X-ray showed bi-lateral pneumonia. Also, the CT-severity score (Chest CT can predict the disease severity by showing the percentage of lung involvement and hence give an idea about the prognosis of the disease) was very high, and signs were in favor of COVID itself,” he said,

Within three days, the condition of the patient deteriorated. She was put on a ventilator, but could not survive.

The tale of tragedies doesn’t stop here. Doctors said the second wave of COVID has brought sudden worsening of symptoms in many young patients, which was not in the first COVID wave.

Take the instance of a 27-year-old male, who battled death with all his youthful vigor but could not beat it.

“Initially, he was not so sick. His oxygen saturation was around 85 percent saturation and had minimum oxygen requirement. Suddenly, he developed a drop in saturation, and we had to put him on the ventilator. Again, he remained stable for two to three days and was extubated. Unfortunately, he got caught up in the same cycle in some days, and expired in the ICU last week,” the doctor said.

The younger population has been on COVID radar this year with many cases being reported at the hospitals in Kashmir. Every other day, the death of people in their 20s and 30s sends shivers down the spine.

Although, at present, there is very little data that shows how long immunity lasts in the younger population, the mutant strains are believed to escape the immune response, and cause COVID.

SKIMS Pulmonary and Internal Medicine Consultant, Dr. Syed Mudasir Qadri told The Kashmir Monitor, that this year the patient profile of the “admitted patients (Severe COVID)” has definitely changed, although the overall infection rates may be similar to last year.

“More young people are having a moderate and severe lung involvement this time and in all probability, it is due to the mutant strains,” Qadri said.

He pointed out that younger people are dying in Jammu and Kashmir and whole country due to the increased number of infections overwhelming the system leading to more deaths.

“It seems as if we were caught unaware by the virus, although had proper precautions been taken at the state or Central level, things would’ve been much better,” Dr. Qadri said.

He said all age groups are equally vulnerable to the infection with the virus. “What differs is the symptomatology, morbidity, and mortality. Younger than 18 years do develop a fever for a few days but rarely develop full-blown lung involvement. In young and middle-aged adults, this time the incidence of bilateral viral pneumonia has increased significantly leading to more admission and increased mortality in this age group,” he said.

Dr. Qadri said if a strict complete lockdown is put in place then they may be able to reach the peak and flatten the curve quicker, maybe by middle of May.

“On the other hand if things keep on going the same way then Almighty help us, we may peak somewhere in May or June end,” he said.

Pain Medicine Specialist Dr. Tariq Tramboo said the U.K. variant of the coronavirus is now the dominant strain of the second wave in India and the leading cause of new COVID cases in all states.

“UK variant is known to hit the younger population hard as it is better equipped for escaping the young immune system. Further, no age group is immune anymore. Mutant UK strain can hit a child or an adult anytime. Older age groups having less immunity to fight will obviously have higher mortality though,” he said.

 Dr. Tramboo noted the peak is likely to be expected from ending May or June.

“Number of deaths will be directly proportional to our present behavior. This Virus does not recognize religious congregations or political gatherings. We need to act now as an evolved society and save our loved ones from imminent disaster,” he said.