AIIMS director Randeep Guleria said that India could face more challenges due to COVID-19 as the new strains are emerging and can cause major outbreaks. He further said, “the new variant can even cause re-infections in people who have developed antibodies to the virus.”
While labelling the term myth to the concept of herd immunity for coronavirus in India he further concluded that 80% of the total population need to have antibodies in order to protect the population. A mutant strain has recently been detected in Maharashtra that could be more infectious, highly transmissible and extremely dangerous. A number of 240 new strains of the virus have been noticed across the country. Along with Maharashtra, states like Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Punjab have been observing a rise in the records.
Explaining why the concept of herd immunity is not appropriate, Dr Guleria said “mutations or variants in the virus have “immune escape mechanism”. They can threaten the immunity achieved by a person through vaccinations or the disease and cause reinfection.”
Viewing the situation, he said that it is extremely vital to maintain proper behaviour in order to avoid the risk of contamination. Getting back to the aggressive measures of testing, contact tracing and isolating is the best way to prevent the risk of spreading of this new strain of coronavirus. With the vaccination in the process and this new outburst, people are raising questions that if the vaccine is effective against the new strain and in response to this, Dr Guleria said “the vaccines are effective, but their efficacy might be less. For example, people might not be able to avoid getting the disease, but they will have a mild version of it.” Proper observance and analysis of the data is the key to find out if there is a need to modify the vaccines to tackle the new variant strains. We would also be doing some changes to the vaccines in the coming months. He further put the focus that getting the vaccination is a must and everybody should get themselves registered for the vaccination. It is extremely important to provide vaccination to a large number of masses in order to notice the progression and to check if the vaccination is effective to fight the new strains of the virus.
With more than 1.07 crore vaccines already administered and the outbreak of new strains emerging across the country, it becomes extremely difficult to find out what should be the subsequent steps in order to combat the virus fully. Taking precautions and following the safety protocols is the way to go!