Meanwhile, Sameer Dixit of the Centre for Molecular Dynamics says he has done that comparison and in the past four months there has been no increase in reports of flu-like illnesses to the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division compared to previous years. Across the country 20-25 government, private and community hospitals report to the division via the Early Warning and Response System.
Yet based on experiences in other countries to date, 10-15% of those infected with COVID-19 should become seriously ill. Asks Dixit: “The limited testing to date could be a major factor, but don’t you think that there should be huge spikes everywhere of severe illness among the elderly population? It’s not happening. At night I lie in bed wondering why, and it’s bothering the hell out of me.”
Dixit, who has postgraduate degrees in immunology and biotechnology, believes that people are not getting seriously ill because Nepal is experiencing a less severe strain of the virus, and/or Nepalis do have stronger immune systems.
“While lack of testing is also a big cause for missing cases, I believe that immunity may be a major player in developing countries. I know this sounds far-fetched, and people will laugh when they hear it, but there is a ‘hygiene hypothesis’.”
The theory suggests that people who grow up in less hygienic surroundings develop strong immunity to external health threats. Dixit notes that the hypothesis has not been tested for virus outbreaks.
But to support the hygiene hypothesis he notes figures from previous outbreaks:
2009 Influenza A H1N1 pandemic: Global infected 700 million -1.4 billion, Global deaths 150,000-600,000, Nepal: Infected 173, Deaths 3.
2003 SARS Corona outbreak: Global infected ~8,000, Global deaths ~770, Nepal: Infected 0, Deaths 0.