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Mapped: Drone Privacy Laws Around the World

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View the high-resolution of the infographic by clicking here.

From Olympic opening ceremonies to public safety, drone applications have come a long way.

In fact, their modern applications are set to almost double the total value of the commercial drone market from $22.5 billion to $42.8 billion between 2020-2025, at a 13.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Naturally, such diverse and complex uses can go quickly awry if not monitored and regulated correctly by governments—yet in some cases, it’s because of governments that drones’ uses border on sinister.

This in-depth map from Surfshark explores the murky guidelines surrounding drone privacy laws around the world, and some case studies of how they’re used in every region.

How Are Drone Privacy Laws Classified?

According to the map researchers, drone and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) regulations typically fall into one of the following buckets:

  1. Outright ban
  2. Effective ban
  3. Visual line of sight required
    Pilots need to be able to see the drones at all times, and must usually obtain a license or permit
  4. Experimental visual line of sight
    Pilots can let the drone fly outside their field of vision e.g. during a race
  5. Restrictions apply
    Drones need to be registered, and/or additional observers are required
  6. Unrestricted
    When drones are flown around private property and airports, and under 500 feet (150 meters)
  7. No drone-related legislation

Categories are assigned based on legislation as of October 2020.

Clearly, there is some overlap among these categories. They are highly dependent on judgment calls made by specific legal authorities, and change based on what a drone is being used for.

Explore the drone privacy laws in your specific country here:

Country/Territory Continent Drone Legal Status (Oct. 2020)
Afghanistan Asia Unrestricted
Albania Europe No drone-related legislation
Algeria Africa Outright ban
Andorra Europe Visual line of sight required
Angola Africa No drone-related legislation
Antigua and Barbuda North America Experimental visual line of sight
Argentina South America Unrestricted
Armenia Europe No drone-related legislation
Aruba North America Visual line of sight required
Australia Oceania Experimental visual line of sight
Austria Europe Unrestricted
Azerbaijan Europe Visual line of sight required
Bahamas, The North America Unrestricted
Bahrain Asia No drone-related legislation
Bangladesh Asia Unrestricted
Barbados North America Outright ban
Belarus Europe No drone-related legislation
Belgium Europe Visual line of sight required
Belize North America Effective ban
Benin Africa No drone-related legislation
Bermuda North America Visual line of sight required
Bhutan Asia Effective ban
Bolivia South America No drone-related legislation
Bosnia and Herzegovina Europe No drone-related legislation
Botswana Africa Visual line of sight required
Brazil South America Visual line of sight required
Brunei Darussalam Asia Outright ban
Bulgaria Europe Effective ban
Burkina Faso Africa No drone-related legislation
Burundi Africa No drone-related legislation
Cabo Verde Africa Visual line of sight required
Cambodia Asia No drone-related legislation
Cameroon Africa Visual line of sight required
Canada North America Experimental visual line of sight
Cayman Islands North America Experimental visual line of sight
Central African Republic Africa No drone-related legislation
Chad Africa Unrestricted
Chile South America Visual line of sight required
China Asia Experimental visual line of sight
Colombia South America Visual line of sight required
Comoros Africa No drone-related legislation
Congo, Dem. Rep. Africa No drone-related legislation
Congo, Rep. Africa No drone-related legislation
Costa Rica North America Visual line of sight required
Cote d’Ivoire Africa Outright ban
Croatia Europe Visual line of sight required
Cuba North America Outright ban
Curacao North America Visual line of sight required
Cyprus Europe Visual line of sight required
Czech Republic Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Denmark Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Djibouti Africa No drone-related legislation
Dominica North America No drone-related legislation
Dominican Republic North America Visual line of sight required
Ecuador South America Visual line of sight required
Egypt, Arab Rep. Africa Effective ban
El Salvador North America No drone-related legislation
Equatorial Guinea Africa No drone-related legislation
Eritrea Africa No drone-related legislation
Estonia Europe Unrestricted
Ethiopia Africa No drone-related legislation
Faroe Islands Europe Unrestricted
Fiji Oceania Visual line of sight required
Finland Europe Experimental visual line of sight
France Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Gabon Africa No drone-related legislation
Gambia, The Africa No drone-related legislation
Georgia Europe Visual line of sight required
Germany Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Ghana Africa Experimental visual line of sight
Gibraltar Europe Effective ban
Greece Europe Unrestricted
Greenland North America Visual line of sight required
Grenada North America No drone-related legislation
Guam Oceania Unrestricted
Guatemala North America No drone-related legislation
Guinea Africa No drone-related legislation
Guinea-Bissau Africa No drone-related legislation
Guyana South America Experimental visual line of sight
Haiti North America No drone-related legislation
Honduras North America No drone-related legislation
Hong Kong SAR, China Asia Visual line of sight required
Hungary Europe Unrestricted
Iceland Europe Visual line of sight required
India Asia Visual line of sight required
Indonesia Asia Visual line of sight required
Iran, Islamic Rep. Asia Outright ban
Iraq Asia Outright ban
Ireland Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Israel Asia Visual line of sight required
Italy Europe Visual line of sight required
Jamaica North America Visual line of sight required
Japan Asia Experimental visual line of sight
Jordan Asia Unrestricted
Kazakhstan Europe No drone-related legislation
Kenya Africa Effective ban
Kiribati Oceania No drone-related legislation
Korea, Dem. People’s Rep. Asia No drone-related legislation
Korea, Rep. Asia Visual line of sight required
Kosovo Europe Visual line of sight required
Kuwait Asia Outright ban
Kyrgyz Republic Asia Outright ban
Lao PDR Asia Unrestricted
Latvia Europe Unrestricted
Lebanon Asia No drone-related legislation
Lesotho Africa No drone-related legislation
Liberia Africa No drone-related legislation
Libya Africa No drone-related legislation
Liechtenstein Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Lithuania Europe Visual line of sight required
Luxembourg Europe Visual line of sight required
Macao SAR, China Asia Visual line of sight required
Madagascar Africa Outright ban
Malawi Africa Visual line of sight required
Malaysia Asia Effective ban
Maldives Asia Effective ban
Mali Africa No drone-related legislation
Malta Europe Unrestricted
Marshall Islands Oceania No drone-related legislation
Mauritania Africa No drone-related legislation
Mauritius Africa Visual line of sight required
Mexico North America Visual line of sight required
Micronesia, Fed. Sts. Oceania No drone-related legislation
Moldova Europe No drone-related legislation
Monaco Europe Unrestricted
Mongolia Asia No drone-related legislation
Montenegro Europe Visual line of sight required
Morocco Africa Outright ban
Mozambique Africa No drone-related legislation
Myanmar Asia Effective ban
Namibia Africa Visual line of sight required
Nauru Oceania No drone-related legislation
Nepal Asia Visual line of sight required
Netherlands Europe Visual line of sight required
New Caledonia Oceania No drone-related legislation
New Zealand Oceania Experimental visual line of sight
Nicaragua North America Outright ban
Niger Africa No drone-related legislation
Nigeria Africa Effective ban
North Macedonia Europe Visual line of sight required
Norway Europe Visual line of sight required
Oman Asia Effective ban
Pakistan Asia No drone-related legislation
Palau Oceania No drone-related legislation
Panama North America Unrestricted
Papua New Guinea Oceania Visual line of sight required
Paraguay South America No drone-related legislation
Peru South America Visual line of sight required
Philippines Asia Visual line of sight required
Poland Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Portugal Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Puerto Rico North America Experimental visual line of sight
Qatar Asia Unrestricted
Romania Europe Visual line of sight required
Russian Federation Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Rwanda Africa Experimental visual line of sight
Samoa Oceania No drone-related legislation
San Marino Europe No drone-related legislation
Sao Tome and Principe Africa No drone-related legislation
Saudi Arabia Asia Experimental visual line of sight
Senegal Africa Outright ban
Serbia Europe Unrestricted
Seychelles Africa Visual line of sight required
Sierra Leone Africa No drone-related legislation
Singapore Asia Experimental visual line of sight
Sint Maarten (Dutch part) North America Experimental visual line of sight
Slovak Republic Europe Visual line of sight required
Slovenia Europe Outright ban
Solomon Islands Oceania Visual line of sight required
Somalia Africa No drone-related legislation
South Africa Africa Experimental visual line of sight
South Sudan Africa No drone-related legislation
Spain Europe Experimental visual line of sight
Sri Lanka Asia Experimental visual line of sight
St. Kitts and Nevis North America No drone-related legislation
St. Lucia North America Unrestricted
St. Martin (French part) North America Experimental visual line of sight
St. Vincent and the Grenadines North America No drone-related legislation
Sudan Africa No drone-related legislation
Suriname South America No drone-related legislation
Swaziland Africa Visual line of sight required
Sweden Europe Unrestricted
Switzerland Europe Unrestricted
Syrian Arab Republic Asia Outright ban
Taiwan Asia Visual line of sight required
Tajikistan Asia No drone-related legislation
Tanzania Africa Visual line of sight required
Thailand Asia Visual line of sight required
Timor-Leste Asia No drone-related legislation
Togo Africa No drone-related legislation
Tonga Oceania No drone-related legislation
Trinidad and Tobago North America Experimental visual line of sight
Tunisia Africa No drone-related legislation
Turkey Europe Unrestricted
Turkmenistan Asia No drone-related legislation
Turks and Caicos Islands North America Unrestricted
Tuvalu Oceania No drone-related legislation
Uganda Africa Experimental visual line of sight
Ukraine Europe Visual line of sight required
United Arab Emirates Asia Visual line of sight required
United Kingdom Europe Experimental visual line of sight
United States North America Experimental visual line of sight
Uruguay South America Visual line of sight required
Uzbekistan Asia Outright ban
Vanuatu Oceania Visual line of sight required
Venezuela, RB South America Unrestricted
Vietnam Asia Unrestricted
Yemen, Rep. Asia No drone-related legislation
Zambia Africa Visual line of sight required
Zimbabwe Africa Experimental visual line of sight

So How Are Drones Used Worldwide?

The myriad of drone uses are literally and metaphorically up in the air—while they originated in military needs, drone uses now range from hobbies such as aerial photography to supporting disaster relief.

The following regional maps show privacy laws in closer detail, while also highlighting interesting case studies on how drones are used.

North America

Drone Privacy Laws 820px North America
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

According to the latest drone numbers, 70.5% of registered U.S. drones are recreational, but these proportions may soon decline in favor of commercial uses. As of December 2020, civilian drones are allowed to fly over populated areas, a step towards fulfilling their potential in package delivery.

Meanwhile, countries like Mexico are beginning to rely on drones to combat crime, with good results. In the city of Ensenada, a single drone’s surveillance patrol resulted in a 10% drop in overall crime rates in 2018. Drones are increasingly being used to monitor illicit activity such as drug trafficking routes.

South America

Drone Privacy Laws 820px South America
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

Interestingly, the environmental applications of drones come into play in the Amazon rainforest. An indigenous tribe in Brazil is using drones to track levels of deforestation and forest fires—and presenting that data evidence to authorities to urge them to act.

Across the continent, drones are also in place to deliver everything from hospital supplies to life jackets in Chile and El Salvador.

Europe

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Europe
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

The first unmanned, radio-controlled aircraft test flight occurred in the United Kingdom in 1917. The Kettering Aerial Target (or “The Bug”) carried 180 pounds of explosives and became the basis for modern missiles.

While Europe has some of the most liberal drone privacy laws today, that doesn’t mean they’re lenient. Even among countries that allow experimental visual lines of sight (such as Finland and Portugal), special permissions are required.

Middle East and Central Asia

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Middle east and central asia
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

The military applications of drones persist in this region. Iran was one of the first to use armed drones and continues to do so, while simultaneously banning their public use.

Neighboring Turkey also relies on kamikaze drones, augmented by AI and facial recognition, to strengthen border security.

Rest of Asia and Oceania

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Rest of Asia Oceania
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

China-based DJI is the world’s largest drone manufacturer, dominating 70% of the global market. Across Asia, drones have been in use for mass surveillance, particularly in China. In recent times, drones also track compliance with strict COVID-19 guidelines in Malaysia and Singapore.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Nokia is testing out a drone network to provide a more rapid response to future natural disasters. The relief capabilities include disseminating more real-time updates and monitoring evacuation progress.

Africa

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Africa
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

While many parts of Africa haven’t developed any drone-related laws yet, promising innovation is rearing its head. Medical drones are already saving lives in Rwanda, delivering supplies in as little as 15 minutes.

In the same vein, the pioneer African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) opened in Malawi. The academy promotes drone usage for humanitarian and disaster preparedness, and aims to equip individuals with the relevant skills.

Towards Greater Heights?

As the uses of drones evolve over time, so will their legal status and the privacy concerns surrounding them. However, the adoption of any technology is always accompanied by a certain level of skepticism.

With drones, it remains to be seen whether they’ll mostly occupy the role of a friend or a foe for years to come—and that power lies only in the hands of those who remotely control them.

Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/mapped-drone-privacy-laws-around-the-world/

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Malaysia Technology Expo (MTE) 2021 goes virtual

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For the first time, the annual Malaysia Technology Expo (MTE) will be held virtually on the 22 – 26 March 2021: The Patent Magazine is media partner

For the first time, the annual Malaysia Technology Expo (MTE) will be held virtually on the 22 – 26 March 2021. This shift to a virtual event is in light of on-going developments with the COVID-19 pandemic, where travel and physical restrictions are still in effect globally and where safety for our participants and attendees is a top priority. A strong advocate of creativity and development of innovations, MTE acts as a catalyst to create synergy between entrepreneurs and the science and technology communities to work together towards global partnerships. In 2020, the event attracted over 427 exhibits from 21 countries. The event also welcomed 9,639 local and international visitors from 31 countries.

Why participate in MTE 2021 Virtual?

  • Expose your business / innovations to thousands of investors, marketers, manufacturers and distributors. across the globe.
  • Easy accessibility to your products or services amongst a targeted audience from anywhere and anytime.
  • Meeting potential partners for collaboration via live chat.             
  • Being amongst the best competitors in your field
  • Insights into market needs and demands for your next project.

Celebrating 20 years of leading change through innovations

To mark its 20th anniversary, MTE will bring new and existing concurrent events to their audience:

INNOVATIONS AWARDS PROGRAMME 2021
In 2020, MTE received 566 award entries from 21 countries. 8 foreign inventors and innovators associations (Croatia Inventors Network, Indonesian Invention & Innovation Promotion Association, Chinese Innovation and Invention Society Taiwan, International Federation of Inventors Associations, Euro Business-HALLER Poland, Highly Innovative Unique Foundation Saudi Arabia, Association of British Inventors & Innovators, Japan Intellectual Property Association) added their support by awarding to MTE’s outstanding inventions and innovations.

Invention & Innovation Awards 2021
Asian Youth Innovation Awards 2021
Public Service Innovation Awards 2021
Social Innovation Awards 2021

FUTURE EDTECH 2021 (NEW!)
Held alongside MTE2021 will be the inaugural Future Edtech 2021, the perfect stage for Education Technology innovations to meet a ready audience eager to source for the latest ideas and technology on education, learn new trends to rethink education in the new normal. This is an opportunity for technology and solution providers to network with thousands of educators who share common challenges as we approach the new normal in the post-COVID-19 era.

INNOVATION MARKETPLACE
Innovation Marketplace, a trade exhibition, for exhibitors to showcase their most innovative solutions and practical scalable technologies to the highest calibre investors and network with a wide pool of enthusiasts looking to celebrate their own emerging venture.

MALAYSIA-CROATIA TECHNOLOGY EXCHANGE
Croatia has been sending groups of renowned inventors and technoprenuers from their country to participate in MTE for the past 12 years. This long-established partnership between the 2 countries focusing on innovation and technology enhancement have spurred many other areas of collaborations beyond innovations, such as in the areas of tourism and manufacturing. Be at the centre of Asia’s marketplace for inventions and innovation today! Your organisation will be able to explore new local and global partnership opportunities with key industry players, exchange ideas and marketing intelligence with peers, generate new business leads and strengthen your  organisation’s  position amongst competitors in the industry.

Organised by:
PROTEMP Exhibitions And Conferences Sdn Bhd (No. 492079-W)
Office +6 03 6140 6666
Email mte@protempgroup.com

Source: https://www.thepatent.news/2021/01/21/malaysia-technology-expo-mte-2021-virtual/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=malaysia-technology-expo-mte-2021-virtual

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Visualized: The World Leaders In Positions of Power (1970-Today)

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Who were the world leaders when the Berlin Wall fell? How many women have been heads of state in prominent governments? And who are the newest additions to the list of world leaders?

This graphic reveals the leaders of the most influential global powers since 1970. Countries were selected based on the 2020 Most Powerful Countries ranking from the U.S. News & World Report.

Note: Switzerland has been omitted due to the swiftly changing nature of their national leadership.

The 1970s: Economic Revolutions

Our graphic starts in 1970, a year in which Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union, while on the other side of the Iron Curtain, Willy Brandt was presiding over West Germany.

In the U.S., Richard Nixon implemented a series of economic shocks to stimulate the economy, but resigned in scandal due to the Watergate tapes in 1974. In the same time period, China was undergoing rapid industrialization and economic hardship under the final years of rule of communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, until his death in 1976.

In 1975, the King of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was assassinated by his nephew. The decade also marked the end of Park Chung-Hee’s dictatorship in South Korea when he was assassinated in 1979.

To cap off the decade, Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1979, transforming the British economy using a laissez-faire economic policy that would come to be known as Thatcherism.

The 1980s: Reaganomics and the Fall of the Wall

The 1980s saw Ronald Reagan elected in the U.S., beginning an era of deregulation and economic growth. Reagan would actually meet the Soviet Union’s president, Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 to discuss human rights and nuclear arms control amid the tensions of the Cold War.

The 1984 assassination of the Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi was also a defining event of the decade. She was succeeded by her son, Rajiv Gandhi for only seven years before his own assassination in 1991.

The ‘80s were clearly turbulent times for world leaders, especially towards the end of the decade. In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunified under chancellor Helmut Kohl. 1989 was also the year when the devastating events occurred at the Tiananmen Square protests in China, under president Deng Xiaoping. The event left a lasting mark on China’s history and politics.

The 1990s: War 2.0 and the Promise of the EU

The beginning of a new decade marked the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, leading to Boris Yeltsin’s position as the first president of the Russian Federation. A sense of peace, or at least the knowledge that a finger wasn’t floating above a nuclear launch button at any given moment, brought a sense of global calm.

However, this does not mean the decade was without conflict. The Gulf War began in 1990, led by the U.S. military’s Commander-in-Chief George H.W. Bush. In the mid-90s, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel was assassinated by Jewish extremists.

In spite of this, the ‘90s were a time of optimism for many. In 1993, the European project began. The European Union was founded with the support European leaders like the UK’s prime minister John Major, France’s president Francois Mitterrand, and chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany.

The 2000s: Historic Firsts and Power Shifts

The dawn of a new century had people feeling both hopeful and scared. While Y2K didn’t end the world, many transformative events did occur, such as the 9/11 attacks in New York and the subsequent war on terror led by U.S. president George W. Bush.

On the other hand, Angela Merkel made history becoming the first female chancellor of Germany in 2005. A few years later, Barack Obama also achieved a momentous ‘first’ as the first African-American president in the United States.

The 2000s to early 2010s also revealed rapidly changing power shifts in Japan. Shinzō Abe rose to power in 2006, and after five leadership changes in seven years, he eventually circled back, ending up as prime minister again by 2013—a position he held until late 2020.

Country Number of Leaders Since 1970
🇯🇵 Japan 25
🇹🇷 Turkey 18
🇮🇳 India 12
🇦🇺 Australia 12
🇬🇧 UK 10
🇺🇸 USA 10
🇰🇷 South Korea 10
🇮🇱 Israel 9
🇨🇦 Canada 9
🇷🇺 Russia 7
🇫🇷 France 7
🇨🇳 China 6
🇩🇪 Germany 5
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 5
🇦🇪 UAE 2

The 2010s: World Leaders Face Uncertainty

The 2010s were more than eventful. The Hong Kong protests under Chinese president Xi Jinping, and the annexation of Crimea led by Vladimir Putin, uncovered the wavering dominance of democracy and international law.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s move to introduce a Brexit referendum, resulted in just over half of the British population voting to leave the EU in 2016. This vote led to a rising feeling of protectionism and a shift away from globalization and multilateral cooperation.

Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election was a shocking political longshot in the same year. Trump’s stint as president will likely have a longstanding impact on the course of American politics.

Two countries elected their first female leaders in this decade: president Park Geun-Hye in South Korea, and prime minister Julia Gillard in Australia. Here’s a look at which global powers have been led by women in the last 50 years.

Country Female Leader
🇦🇺 Australia Julia Gillard
🇨🇦 Canada Kim Campbell
🇩🇪 Germany Angela Merkel
🇮🇳 India Indira Gandhi
🇰🇷 South Korea Park Geun-Hye
🇹🇷 Turkey Tansu Ciller
🇬🇧 UK Margaret Thatcher
🇬🇧 UK Theresa May

2020 to Today

No one can avoid talking about 2020 without talking about COVID-19. Many world leaders have been praised for their positive handling of the pandemic, such as Angela Merkel in Germany. Others on the other hand, like Boris Johnson, have received critiques for slow responses and mismanagement.

The year 2020 packed about as much punch on its own as an entire decade does, from geopolitical tensions to a nail-biting 2020 U.S. election. The world is on high alert as the now twice-impeached Trump prepares his transfer of power following the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The newest addition to the ranks of world leaders, Joe Biden, has recently taken his place as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, 2021.

Editor’s note: We’ll continue to update this graphic on world leaders as time goes on. Unfortunately, we were unable to include world leaders from more countries, as we were limited by the graphic format and user experience.

Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualized-world-leaders-in-positions-of-power/

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COVID-19 and smoking: Tobacco not a protector

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A woman smokes at the Kinari Bazaar in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Image credit: donyanedomam / 123rf

Research into interplay between COVID-19 and smoking conducted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been questioned by scientists. The CSIR serosurvey reportedly suggested that smokers are at lower risk of contracting COVID-19 – but experts responded with doubts.

The CSIR conducted a seroprevalence survey of 10,427 Indians, consisting of those working in CSIR laboratories or institutions and their relatives. As explained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “serology tests look for antibodies in blood. If antibodies are found, that means there has been a previous infection. Antibodies are proteins that can fight off infections. Investigations using serology testing are called seroprevalence surveys.” 

Seroprevalence surveys are used in the context of COVID-19, the CDC explains, “to identify people in a population who have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 [severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19]. Antibody test results can provide information about previous infections in people who had many, few, or no symptoms.” 

The CSIR’s seroprevalence survey found, it said, that smokers are less likely to be seropositive than non-smokers. This, it said, “is the first report from the general population and part of growing evidence that despite Covid-19 being a respiratory disease, smoking may be protective.” 

However, scientists have repudiated the findings in comments to The Print. “We have not found such evidence in our hospital of smokers having any protection from COVID as this serosurvey suggests,” said Dr B. L. Sherwal, medical director of the Rajiv Gandhi Superspecialty Hospital. “But we have seen that smokers have higher susceptibility to COVID infection. This is because their immune system is compromised and their lungs are already affected by smoking. Seroprevalence may have been lower because antibodies may disappear due to slow immune response among smokers.”

In concurring sentiments expressed to The Print, Public Health Foundation of India president Dr K. Srinath Reddy said “there are several explanations for why smokers haven’t shown presence of antibodies against Covid. Antibody levels may disappear faster among smokers compared to non-smokers. Presence of antibodies is also dependent on multiple factors like nutrition and age.” 

As The Print noted, “in July last year, the Union Health Ministry had said smokers were likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as smoking increases possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth, and warned that use of tobacco products could increase severity of respiratory infections and make people susceptible to coronavirus.” 

Last year, Health Issues India reported on the interplay between COVID-19 and smoking and other forms of tobacco use. We cited comments made by interventional pulmonologist Dr Prem Ananth P., who said “though there is no direct evidence showing those who consume tobacco are more prone to COVID-19, poor respiratory health due to tobacco-caused chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can in turn aggravate if infected by COVID-19.” We also cited the World Health Organization (WHO), who said “smoking impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases. 

“Tobacco is also a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes which put people with these conditions at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19. Available research suggests that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death.”

Indeed, the WHO in December used COVID-19 as a linchpin of its bid to urge tobacco users to kick the habit. Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the time “smoking kills eight million people a year, but if users need more motivation to kick the habit, the pandemic provides the right incentive.” The WHO observed that “when evidence was released this year that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers, it triggered millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco. Quitting can be challenging, especially with the added social and economic stress that have come as a result of the pandemic, but there are a lot of reasons to quit.”

India is no stranger to the detrimental effects of tobacco use among the population. According to the Tobacco Atlas, “every year, more than 932,600 of [India’s] people are killed by tobacco-caused disease. Still, more than 625,000 children (ten to fourteen years old) and 89,486,000 adults (fifteen+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day.” As noted by Health Issues India, “tobacco use fuels the country’s crisis of noncommunicable diseases, which result in 5.2 million lives lost a year. And, as the WHO points out, a high rate of tobacco use stands to exacerbate India’s ongoing COVID-19 crisis as well as other diseases prevalent in India such as tuberculosis.” 

As far as the CSIR study regarding COVID-19 and smoking goes, the evidence simply isn’t there to support the notion that smoking has a protective effect against COVID-19 – and, in many cases, research points to the conclusion that the opposite is plausibly true. “Smoking always impacts health because it inhibits antibody response and suppresses immunity,” Dr Lalit Kant, the former head of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told The Print. “We cannot derive conclusions from such studies and a detailed epidemiological study is required to establish cause and effect relations instead of a cross-sectional study such as this.” 

Source: https://www.healthissuesindia.com/2021/01/20/covid-19-and-smoking-tobacco-not-a-protector/

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Cardiology assessments dropped dramatically during COVID

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Image credit: Puwadol Jaturawutthichai / 123rf

The pandemic witnessed a steep drop in the number of cardiology assessments, according to the recently-published results of a survey. 

Of particular concern throughout the COVID-19 has been the disruption to routine health services, ranging from routine immunisation to screening for and treatment of other diseases. In the case of cardiology, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found that between March and April of 2020 alone, cardiology assessments such as diagnostic procedures dropped by 64 percent compared to the corresponding timeframe in 2019.

The IAEA’s survey’s results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), received responses from 909 institutions spanning 108 countries. The JACC study citing the survey by the IAEA found “procedure volumes decreased 42 percent from March 2019 to March 2020, and 64 percent from March 2019 to April 2020….significantly greater reduction in procedures occurred for centers in countries with lower gross domestic product.

“Location in a low-income and lower–middle-income country was associated with an additional 22 percent reduction in cardiac procedures and less availability of personal protective equipment and telehealth. COVID-19 was associated with a significant and abrupt reduction in cardiovascular diagnostic testing across the globe, especially affecting the world’s economically challenged. Further study of cardiovascular outcomes and COVID-19–related changes in care delivery is warranted.”

In a press release, the IAEA outlined the study’s findings that “procedures most impacted included lengthier ones and those where the risk of exposure to COVID-19 infections could increase. Exercise stress tests, for example, where droplets of sweat and saliva are likely to be released in the air, was the most disrupted. This widespread method for determining heart fitness was reduced by 78 percent overall, while invasive procedures that include the insertion of tubes to obtain ultrasound images, such as transesophageal echocardiography, declined by 76 percent. 

“More routine transthoracic echocardiograms – common heart ultrasound using electrodes placed on the chest – declined by 59 percent, and more complex procedures such as coronary angiography decreased by 55 percent.” Fear of contracting COVID-19 deterred many patients, it added, with other contributing factors including fewer appointment slots and avoiding certain tests involving aerosolisation. 

“The data showed most facilities across the world responded to COVID-19 with practices such as physical distancing, use of face masks, robust screening and temperature checks,” Paez added. “Nevertheless, compared to the previous year, around 718,000 cardiac diagnostic procedures were not performed in March-April 2020 in the participating centres due to COVID-19.”

Delayed or avoided screening for heart disease and accompanying procedures are a major concern for India, whose heart disease burden accounts for its biggest killer. The pandemic overwhelmed an already-overburdened and underresourced health system – and the cracks showed almost immediately with the abrupt change in focus from India’s myriad health concerns to COVID-19 leaving many in the cold. 

As a study published in December last year put it, “reorienting the already overburdened health system to the exclusive needs of coronavirus treatment created severe disruptions and uncertainties with regard to the delivery of routine chronic care. These disruptions include potential blockages in supplies of essential medicines and technologies, screening and diagnosis procedures, limited access to resource availability including health workers and support services that are critical for ongoing management of NCDs [noncommunicable diseases].” 

The need for cardiology assessments and maintaining continuity of care is patent. This is true in the context of COVID-19, where there can be lasting damage to heart health due to the novel coronavirus and where comorbidities such as various heart conditions increase the vulnerability of those who contract COVID-19 to serious illness. It is true also in the broader context of a country where heart disease accounts for more than 28 percent of deaths as of 2016 – and where the burden is sharply rising. 

Source: https://www.healthissuesindia.com/2021/01/20/cardiology-assessments-dropped-dramatically-during-covid/

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