An utter disregard for pandemic-related safety measures is reaching dangerous proportions in India. It almost seems symptomatic of a new devil-may-care attitude where even a record viral caseload is not making their behavior. Picture the new and new mutations emerging locally, and set them against the images of large gatherings for religious events, elections, cricket matches, and social functions. It is a no-brainer why each day. But with new matters now at over two lahks a days, concerns over what is in-store tomorrow are getting hard to ignore.
At one end, there are worries around the injections – the availability of, the types of new vaccines, their safety, and their ability to deal with the new variants. On the other end, there are concerns about the infection and how it is unfolding – the , its likely resistance to vaccines, and the transmissibility versus the virulence of the virus strains.
Let us try and get answers to some of the critical questions:
How much should we worry about the virusto deal with them? Based on , Dr. Gagandeep Kang, India’s , Vellore, tells Financial Express Online: “Of all the strains that we see, we do not need to worry too much.” There are more concerns around the South African variant among all the variants – that vaccine experts refer to as B.1.351. It is also found in India, as are the other variants – B.1.1.7 (the UK variant) and P.1 (the Brazilian strain), apart from the double mutations in India and other countries. “I we know that all the vaccines are not working even against the South African variant – which is regarded as the worst of the lot variants in terms of immune escape. However, these kinds of Dr. Kang.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at theand the former director-general at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), says: “All the currently approved vaccines in India and those which have received emergency use listing by the WHO and other stringent regulatory authorities and will also eventually get to India are all very effective in preventing severe disease and death.” She feels “most will probably work against the variants noticed in India also (B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1 apart from the double mutations) though more studies are needed on the vaccine efficacy against the different variants.”
Agreeing with the view on the, Rakesh Kumar Mishra, director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), a premier Indian research organization based in Hyderabad and focused in the frontier areas of modern biology, says: “because we are not finding any unusually high level of re-infection, it means people who got infected have developed the immunity and can resist the infection. Therefore, he believes the vaccines are also working and, therefore, “those who get vaccinated will also get the protection.”
CCMB (and perhaps a couple of other scientific institutions), he says, is currently conducting the in-vitro neutralizing assay to understand the response of vaccines to the double mutations, and he feels in another tento a fortnight clearer picture should emerge on the efficacy of the vaccines on the double mutations.