New Delhi: In India, the total number of people who have received coronavirus vaccine shots till Monday evening has crossed 60 lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry. India reached this milestone in 24 days, which according to the centre is the fastest in the world. The US took 26 days to reach this mark, whereas the UK achieved it in 46 days, the government underlined.
Till Monday evening, 60,35,660 beneficiaries were vaccinated through 1,24,744 sessions. Of these, 54,12,270 are healthcare workers and 6,23,390 frontline workers whose vaccination started on February 2, Additional Secretary in the Health Ministry Manohar Agnani said.
As COVID-19 vaccine drive gets bigger and bigger with each passing day, not just in India, but across the world, World Health Organisation (WHO) expert – Dr Kate O’ Brien, Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals decodes what happens next, after one has taken their COVID-19 jab and also busts the myths floating around vaccination.
When Does The Immunity Kick In
WHO’s Dr Kate O’ Brien says,
The vaccines that we have right now are all two-dose vaccines. After the first dose, we see a good immune response that kicks in within about two weeks of that first dose. And it’s really the second dose that then further boosts that immune response and we see immunity gets even stronger. The booster shot takes shorter period of time to kick in the immunity.
How Long Does The Immunity Last?
Dr Kate O’ Brien adds that currently the world doesn’t know for how long the vaccines provide immunity against COVID-19. She says,
Whatever vaccines we have in hand right now against COVID-19, we don’t know how long they provide the immunity. We are following people who have received vaccinations to find out whether or not their immune response is durable over time and the length of time which they are protected against disease. For now, we really have to wait for the time to pass to see just how long these vaccines last.
Can One Still Catch COVID-19 After Getting Vaccinated And Can Infect Others?
Dr Kate O’ Brien says that the clinical trials demonstrated that these vaccines protect against the disease, however, we don’t know yet from the clinical trials whether or not these vaccines protect people from getting infected from COVID-19 or whether or not it protects against transmitting to somebody else. She says,
So that is the really important part of our understanding about what these vaccines can do. With time, as we get more understanding about the vaccines, we will be able to know this.
Common Myths Around COVID-19 Vaccines And Are These Safe?
Putting a stop to all the myths around the vaccines that are floating around, Dr Kate O’ Brien says,
Around the world, whatever vaccines are there against COVID-19 are absolutely safe. All the components that goes into the vaccine are heavily tested to be sure that everything in there is safe for humans. They are first tested on animals to make sure they are safe for humans and then it goes into human clinical trials, where thousands of people receive the vaccine before it is finally authorised for use in general public. Vaccines cannot cause infertility, nor it can change the DNA.
Highlighting the fact Dr Kate O’ Brien says that two of the approved vaccines against COVID-19 are referred to as mRNA vaccines, and there’s no way that the mRNA vaccine can turn into DNA and there is no way that the mRNA vaccine can change the DNA of our human cells. She adds,
What mRNA is that it gives instructions to the body to make a protein. Most vaccines are developed by actually giving the protein or giving the small tiny component of the germ or inactive virus that we are trying to vaccinate against. mRNA is a new approach where we are giving the instructions to our own bodies to make that little part and then our natural immune system responds to it.
Why Do We Need To Continue Talking Precautions Even After Vaccination?
Dr Kate O’ Brien says that everyone really needs to continue taking the precautions like handwashing, maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask, while we still learn about what the vaccines can do. She added,
We still don’t know, if vaccines can protect against getting re-infected and transmitting to someone else? And right now, we are in a situation, where there’s still lot of transmission and it is just out of control. So, how long we need to continue taking these precautions is really going to depend on what communities and countries can do to really crush this virus and its transmission. But remember that we really don’t have the evidence yet for using the vaccine in some age groups. We don’t have the evidence for use of vaccines in children, for instance. So, for the time being, those age groups are going to continue be at risk of both disease and infection and being able to transmit to other people.
Dr Kate O’ Brien further says that the second reason for us to continue following all the precautions is that the vaccines are in short supply, so we don’t have enough vaccine yet to protect the community. She adds,
Those are the reasons why we have to continue taking the precautions, especially the masking, social distancing, hand washing and not gathering in public spaces. For how long, we need to continue with these interventions, time is going to tell once we get broad vaccination coverage in the community, when we know more about what vaccine can actually do to prevent infection. It is only then we can slowly start taking our foot off the pedal of these interventions and make sure the transmission doesn’t start to escalate again.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.