KOZHIKODE: The case of 48-year-old Roy Thomas of Ondayangadi, Mananthavady, in Wayanad is curious. Stepping into the shoes of a truck cleaner, Roy had spent nine days in close proximity with the 52-year-old lorry driver - the ‘super spreader’ who is linked to all 15 COVID-19 cases reported in the district. While travelling to and from Koyambedu market in Chennai, Roy was with the driver. They prepared food, dined and slept in the truck cabin during the trip.
Within a week after returning to Wayanad, the truck driver turned positive and in a short span of 13 days, the virus was transmitted to 15 others, including seven members of his family and Roy’s 21-year-old son. But Roy turned negative in all the four tests he was subjected to.
His wife and daughter too were negative in repeated tests. "We set off in the truck early morning on April 18 and returned on April 26. Our samples were taken after three days and the result came on May 2, indicating that he was positive," said Roy, referring to the truck driver. Roy’s son turned positive on May 5.
The health officials cite two probable reasons for the ‘non-transmission’ of SARS-CoV-2 to Roy. "He might have had a short span of infection before April 29, when we took his samples. Secondly, individual immunity might also have played a role. The same happened in the case of a woman from Meenangady. The truck driver visited the godown and spent a few minutes there. The staff of the godown was not infected but his wife at home was infected," says Dr S Soumya, district Covid surveillance officer.
Former state epidemiologist Dr A Sukumaran, who has been roped in for COVID control activities at the con"” he pointed out.
Director of a well-known virology institute outside Kerala told TNIE that perhaps Roy could be the first infected. "He might have recovered fast before the sample was taken. The exposure to the virus varies among individuals. The man standing face-to-face with the asymptomatic carrier is more exposed to the virus than the others standing nearby. Similarly, bodies of persons respond differently to the virus. Some bodies respond swiftly to the virus, and recover fast. If an antibody test was done on Roy, the result might have been different," he said.
When the truck-driver took 25 days to recover from the pandemic, his 89-year-old mother and Roy’s son recovered in 12 days.