Paracetamol consumption in India has not gone up in last 1 month: Experts

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BY SUMIT SAXENA
New Delhi, April 17 (IANS)
The consumption of paracetamol has not increased in the past one month nor is there an increase in the number of cases of pneumonia, especially a surge in critical patients needing admission in ICUs. Therefore there is not a huge difference between the declared number of positive coronavirus cases by the government and the real number (undetected persons), said Dr. Arvind Kumar.
Speaking to IANS, Kumar, Founder & Managing Trustee Lung Care Foundation, said even if we assume that instead of 15,000 cases there are 15 lakh cases in the country, then 50 percent symptomatic people would have fever. “In fever these people would have taken paracetamol, but in the past one month or 45 days, the sales of paracetamol have not shot up. In fact, I have been informed it is a cold season for these medicines. Therefore, it is not correct that we are not testing enough, there is a minor discrepancy between real numbers and detected cases so far”, said Kumar.
Kumar is presently Chairman, Centre for Chest Surgery and Director, Institute of Robotic Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. He insisted that the lockdown has saved India over testing, and in its absence conditions would have been much worse.
Most Covid-19 infected people have mild or moderate symptoms like coughing, fever and shortness of breath. If there were scores of undetected coronavirus positive cases in the country, and then they would have consumed medicines to address the increase in body temperature leading to the increase in their demand, said Kumar.
But some who catch the new coronavirus get severe pneumonia in both lungs — Covid-19 pneumonia is a critical illness, which could be deadly. Kumar added that in case of severe pneumonia or an increase in the number of undiagnosed people having pneumonia, they would need ICUs. “There has to be an increase in the number of people admitted to ICUs, but it has not been noticed yet”, said Kumar.
On Thursday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) refuted the allegation of testing less people to detect the transmission of novel coronavirus in the country. ICMR’s Chief Scientist Raman Gangakhedkar said that in Japan, 11.7 persons are tested to detect one positive case and in Italy, 6.7 people are tested to find one positive case. He added that in the US it’s 5.3 and in the UK it’s 3.4. “In India, we do 24 tests for one positive case”, said Gangakhedkar, insisting that the ratio of tests and population of the country cannot be a defining criteria to arrive at a conclusion that India is lagging behind in testing.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at sumit.s@ians.in)