Coronavirus In India – would slum dwellers be immune?

More than one in two infected, but extremely few deaths. The researchers underline the astonishing resistance of the poorest districts. There is still no consensus on the causes of this resistance.

North of Bangalore, Doctor Stephen Anthony runs a neighborhood hospital converted into an anti-COVID center. Here, we treat both middle-class patients and the poorest in a nearby slum, he explains. We have fitted five beds with respirators for the most critical cases.

Resilient slum patients

Since the pandemic exploded in Bangalore, Stephen Anthony has observed a phenomenon at first glance surprising. Of the patients we see, those who come from the slum are much more resistant to infection. Most are asymptomatic and only one person needed hospitalization!

The story is far from anecdotal. When the first case of the coronavirus was declared in Dharavi, a huge Bombay slum made famous by the movie Slumdog Millionaire, many predicted the worst. Promiscuity, deplorable hygienic conditions: everything was there for carnage.

Yet today, the daily cases detected in Dharavi can be counted on the fingers of one hand. There would be, in all and everything, less than a hundred deaths since the start of the pandemic for a million inhabitants.

Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Science in Bombay, researcher Ullas Kolthur carried out a random study on nearly 4,000 inhabitants of three slums of Bombay: More than 57% have already contracted the COVID against 17% in the rest of the city.”

Several hypotheses

If the circulation of the virus can be explained by the density of the poorest neighborhoods, the low death rate remains a mystery. The young population of slums certainly explains part of this resistance “, judge Ullas Kolthur advancing two other explanations.

“This population is on the one hand less prone to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, which worsens the symptoms of COVID. On the other hand, she might benefit from a better immune system because she is exposed to more germs than the middle class.”

At this point, scientists can only speculate as to why. “What we can reasonably advance, however, is that the threshold of collective immunity has already been reached in these poor neighborhoods.” This is good news in a country that recorded Sunday a world record of 78767 new infections in last 24 hours!”

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