Monday, May 24, 2021

Is it, or is it not ... ?

A few weeks ago, one of my friends had a sore throat, occasional cough and he felt mildly feverish. He went to a doctor. 

While the physician diagnosed it as a case of pharyngitis, he advised my friend to undergo a PCR test for COVID-19. (That's almost the norm now.) The test returned a negative result.

With medication, his condition improved and he resumed his normal routine.

A few days ago, the occasional cough returned. 

So uncertain are our days and lives now that the seeming indications of some sort of problem with the respiratory tract sent the alarm bells ringing in the family, resulting in discussions on the need to call on a doctor again.

But my friend fended off the suggestions, citing lack of any other symptoms like fever or throat pain.

Don't take anything lightly these days, came the chorus of warning.

His nephew who is a doctor in the US got roped into the discussions and he asked his uncle to get a blood test done.

The results indicated two parameters above normal. Sensing something wrong, the doctor asked his uncle to get a CT scan of the lungs done.

The results came negative for COVID-19. But the doctor and his pulmonologist colleague found in the images of the lungs indications of very mild coronavirus infection.

Not leaving anything to chance, my friend is now under medication for COVID-19 and has isolated himself at home, with no symptoms other than an occasional dry cough.

He found his predicament very strange -- no COVID-19, but there is COVID-19!

This sums up the situation right now in India. Uncertainty, doubts, anxiety. 

Lack of any clarity on how the virus -- which seems to have a mind of its own -- behaves is only making matters worse.    


People -- who have tested negative but are suspected to be infected, because they have some symptoms -- are asked to get a CT scan of the lungs done. This is a trend that has started this year. 

The proponents say a swab test result could be inaccurate because the annoying process of taking the samples from the throat and nasal tract makes the person move back resulting in the collection of an inadequate amount of sample.

They say if there is an infection, there will be tell-tale signs in the lungs which the scan unmistakably captures.

However, the exposure of the body to radiation isn't advisable, and doctors have been warning against indiscriminate use of CT scan to detect COVID-19.

But radiologists and many general practitioners feel the benefits outweigh the risk.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi this year resisted demands -- from even Anthony Fauci -- for a national lockdown. Instead, he left the decision to individual state governments, saying the incidence of infection isn't uniform across the country.

Now almost all the states in India have some form of lockdown in place. And as a result of that, the numbers are steadily declining.

Here in Bengaluru, the lockdown was earlier scheduled to be lifted today. But it has now been extended for another two weeks, till June 7.

That's the only thing that is certain.


  1. Here in France the bars are reopening and I'm not sure it's a good idea. We still have a 9pm curfew. I hope the situation in India will progress soon to a better way, and that the vaccine will help to slow down the virus and its so many variants. Take care, and stay healthy.

  2. Hari OM
    it really isn't done with us yet... There are some increasing cases here again. We back at the start of it all, I had only a dry irritating cough for a week before the onset of very serious symptoms. There were no investigations then and as I am asthmatic the thing was dismissed. CT scan? I think if there is that persistence in cough, one simply ought to take the precautionary actions, regardless of testing. It should now become part of social etiquette. This is the 'normal' to which we must adapt. So many governements have just wanted to leave it to run its course - without actually owning up to it! YAM xx

    1. Hi Yamini - Absolutely right. Our social etiquette has for sure changed. Especially social distancing.
      With other diseases, there is some amount of predictability as to how it will pan out. In this case, all sorts of bizarre cases are coming to light.
      Increasingly we are seeing here people passing away a few days after they have recovered and got a negative certificate.

  3. I know Pradeep you are writing about a very serious subject. But your sentence ”no COVID-19, but there is COVID-19!” brought a smile in my face. My thoughts went immediately to a comedy line by a Tamil movie comedian Vadivelu. “varum Aana Varaadhu” (will come but won’t come)

    1. Hi Rajan - My friend also found it very funny. That's the term he used! He was wondering, "Do I have Covid or not?"

  4. It's good that the lockdown was extended. That's probably the best way to keep the numbers down. After all, there are probably more than a few people out there who have gotten false negatives.

  5. I wish you all the best and hope things improve.

  6. That is something I have never heard of until reading this from you. I will always remember it.

    1. Hi Katie - Yeah! It looks like an ever-evolving scenario!

  7. It's easy to get very paranoid as to "is this a cough or is it Covid?" I definitely had those moments. Not fun.

  8. You have captured very rightly as you have said the’doubts,uncertainty and anxiety’ of the times in this post.

    1. Hi KP - The only way is to keep ourselves positive and engaged.

  9. Yea, the times are tough and it is natural to be paranoid. Hope the extended lockdowns improve the situation fast.

    Destination Infinity

    1. Hi Rajesh - Lockdowns keep people apart. That's the only way to get rid of the virus! We have to inculcate in all of us that self-discipline to keep physical distance from each other.

  10. Hi Pradeep - thankfully here it's not brilliant, but at least we have some idea of what's happening. I count my blessings.
    It's so difficult for so many countries ... I just wish you well. All the best - Hilary

  11. Hi Pradeep, this is very interesting - to do or not to do? The CT scan. Is it or isn't it? The news from India is alarming and I really hope the numbers keep on declining as a result of further lockdowns. We're anticipating lockdowns here in South Africa which were lifted a few weeks ago.We do mask, sanitise, social distance etc. All best wishes, Susan

  12. COVID-19 has overturned the lives of so many in so many ways, often tragically. One cannot afford to any lack of caution and prudence. Thank goodness for the nephew in the USA with his good advice. I have a young friend who is presently visiting her parents in southern India. She got COVID and lost all sense of taste and smell. She has now recovered, thank goodness, but she has been unable to return to Canada due to travel embargoes. Damn this pandemic!

  13. Hi Pradeep.
    I was talking to a friend who's based in BLR yesterday and she sounded apprehensive about Covid numbers after the lockdown is lifted. I hope and pray people and the Govt. take enough precautions and measures to keep the numbers down.

    I'm here to share some good news-- Launched my first e book recently:)
    It's free to download.
    Here are the details:

    Stay safe and well.

  14. Hey Pradeep, how are you? Hope everything is well in there. keep safe!