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Herpes & Heart Problems Not Related To Covid Vaccine: Hemalata Arora, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital

With Covid cases on the rise again, BW Businessworld caught up with Hemalata Arora, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital to understand how it might play out this time

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Covid cases are on the rise again- should we expect this wave of Covid to be challenging? 

Though recent reports indicate the presence of new Omicron variants in a few cities of India, they are unlikely to become ‘Variants of Concern.’ The Omicron wave of infections has remained milder than all the previous waves of Covid. Since the infection is restricted to the upper respiratory system and can be treated effectively, infection spread is likely to be short-lived and mild. 

Will we see a comeback of the dreaded Black Fungus this time? 

No, it is unlikely to see a comeback of black fungus or any superadded infections, which were common after first and second wave. Reason being low rate of hospitalisation and milder infections, which do not require an aggressive line of treatment. Excessive use of steroids, high-end antivirals such as Remdesivir, low immunity and long hospital stays caused a sudden rise of super added infections such as Black Fungus or Avascular Necrosis after the first and second wave of Covid. Also, as the omicron wave is not causing severe inflammation, it is unlikely that we will see a return of Black Fungus going forward.    

What is long Covid? What are the symptoms? 

Long Covid is a syndrome that indicates constellations of symptoms, likely to surface after symptomatic or asymptomatic Covid infections. Commonly, these symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, brain-fog, lethargy and fatigue, appear after one to three months of the infections. Apart from some new conditions such as blood clotting, these symptoms are consistent with aftereffects of other viral infections as well. It is important to understand that super added infections such as Black Fungus or Avascular Necrosis are not a part of long Covid. Causes or risk factors of long Covid are yet unknown however, it is likely that the inflammation results in odd reactions in some patients.  

4. There's a belief that the booster shot has caused side effects like Herpes and heart problems. Your view? 

While herpes is an infection; heart condition is an umbrella term for heart-related non-communicable diseases. These cannot be caused as a direct result of taking a Covid vaccine or the booster shot. Infections such as herpes and shingles have become extremely common, and it is advisable for individuals above 60 years to get vaccinated for both to prevent them. 

5. How long will it be before we see the end of Covid-19? 

I don’t suspect it will take long before we see the end of Covid-19 and most likely, in a period of 12-15 months, we may see an end to the pandemic. Multiple waves of different severity are common in the lifecycle of any viral infection, and the recent rise in cases is a similar example of the same. As the herd immunity and vaccine coverage will spread wider, infection severity will decrease gradually before the infection becomes similar to a common cold or flu. 

6. Other than masking up and taking the booster shot, what other precautions can be taken against Covid-19? 

Boosting personal immunity and staying healthy has proved to be effective against Covid-19. Masking up, sanitisation and avoiding social gatherings can prevent the spread of the infection. Getting vaccinated and staying healthy is essential to avoid severe outcome of the disease. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and regular breathing exercises are also important. 

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Magazine 2 July 2022