|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 237-238
Chasing the virus: Not only difficult but also impossible. Are we going to hit a dead end?: Reply
Jyoti Ajagunde, Chanda R Vyawahare, Rajashri Patil, Nikunja Kumar Das
Departments of Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Center, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidypeeth, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Submission||22-Oct-2020|
|Date of Decision||23-Oct-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||24-Oct-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||3-Mar-2021|
Nikunja Kumar Das
Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Center, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidypeeth, Pimpri, Pune - 411 018, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Ajagunde J, Vyawahare CR, Patil R, Das NK. Chasing the virus: Not only difficult but also impossible. Are we going to hit a dead end?: Reply. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2021;14:237-8
|How to cite this URL:|
Ajagunde J, Vyawahare CR, Patil R, Das NK. Chasing the virus: Not only difficult but also impossible. Are we going to hit a dead end?: Reply. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Apr 13];14:237-8. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/text.asp?2021/14/2/237/310712
We went through your paper titled “Chasing the virus: Not only difficult but also impossible. Are we going to hit a dead end?”
We wholeheartedly agree with your view of stopping the chase for the virus, as now the damage is beyond repair. We can only limit the damage that has already been done and move on. We learnt our lessons and continue to do so in how to tackle a pandemic, as the future is uncertain and with global warming, deforestation, chances of biological warfare looming large, we are more vulnerable than ever before.
We would like to bring a thing to your notice about a certain aspect that we experienced during this pandemic. It's about the infrared thermal scanners. And while the accuracy of these devices depends on how they are used, we can say for certain that the technology poses no harm to people and is perfectly safe.
From the initial days of pandemic it caught people's attention and imagination, when they saw this instrument being used in airports and important installations. Gradually, it reached offices, schools, societies, etc., Even some formally educated people had this idea that it can detect COVID infections. Thermal cameras are not perfect, but they helped to control the coronavirus pandemic.
It's just a simple instrument which is handy in detecting body temperatures from a distance. It measures radiated energy from an object surface, such as human skin, without any need to touch that surface. Different temperatures are shown as different colors on a thermogram, which can change color. These devices do not measure core body temperature though.
Today's infrared cameras are extremely reliable with very few moving parts, are simple to operate, but to be accurate, it is vital the user targets the correct area of the face. The reality is that with the right thermal imaging cameras, the right lens and following the correct guidelines and standards, it proved to be effective as a screening tool. When deployed alongside social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing, thermal cameras acted as our arsenal in the fight to control this disease.
Hence were very handy when people had to screen a huge population at a time. Even after months, these are still being used at many places now. We think that it has already served its purpose now needs to be phased out.
Recent studies have reported that only screening of fever can be unreliable. It can put the operator at risk and also gives people a false sense of security.
Human surface temperature is heavily influenced by environmental conditions. In cool environments, surface temperatures can be much lower than body core temperature.
Another problem is that skin temperature does not rise during the developing phase of a fever. It falls because warm blood is kept away from the skin. So your skin temperature changes in the opposite direction to your body core temperature.
Thermal cameras may declare you safe because the skin temperature may be low, but the person could be in the most infectious phase of the fever. Hence, surface temperature may not be a reliable indicator of fever.
Most people, who are positive for COVID-19 and especially in children, there may not be a detectable sign of illness, including fever. The finding that infected people without symptoms shed virus is the Achilles' heel of controlling the current pandemic.
To add to the problem, not all patients will have a fever, at least on the basis of once-off measurement. Only 31% of patients presenting at New York state hospitals with COVID-19 had fevers.
There are many other ways to mask a fever also. Paracetamol is an effective antipyretic, which is available over the counter in India. Just before a travel, people can consume it and may go undetected if only thermal screening is used for COVID detection.
So after so many months of this COVID pandemic, it may be a futile exercise to continue to screen with infrared scanners. May be a loss of workforce and resources.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
Banerjee A. Chasing the virus: Not only difficult but impossible. Are we going to hit a dead end? Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2020;13:425-6. [Full text]