New Delhi: “Unfortunately, we are now in the early stages of a third wave,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The head of WHO also said that Delta variant’s spread, along with increased social mobility and the inconsistent use of proven public health measures, is driving an increase in both case numbers and deaths across the globe.
Dr Tedros further said that the virus is continuing to evolve, resulting in more transmissible variants.
The Delta variant is now in more than 111 countries and we expect it to soon be the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating worldwide if it isn’t already, he said.
Last week marked the fourth consecutive week of rising cases of COVID-19 globally, with increases recorded in all but one of WHO’s six regions. Deaths are also rising again, after 10 weeks of steady decline.
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Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s Chief Scientist says that we know the Delta variant is more transmissible. She also explains what kind of protection we can get from the current batch of approved vaccines.
The Delta variant is the fourth variant of concern described by WHO because it’s both more transmissible than the previous variant and also has been able to resist the antibodies that we have in our blood. So what that means is that you need a higher level of antibodies to overcome this variant as compared to, let’s say, the Alpha variant. Now, the good news is that all of the WHO emergency use listed vaccines do protect against developing severe disease, hospitalisation and death due to the Delta variant.
She further said referred to studies from countries where there is a predominance of Delta variant to show that people who’ve been vaccinated are much less likely to end up in hospital. Dr Swaminathan said,
And you need is the full course of vaccination in order to give you that full immunity to protect you against the Delta variant. So the important thing is if you have access to a vaccine that’s approved by WHO, please do take it and take the full course so that you can be protected both against the Delta and other variants of COVID.
Talking about the level of protection one has if they have received one dose of the vaccine versus if they’re fully vaccinated. Dr Swaminathan says,
The main goal of these vaccines is really to prevent severe disease because what we want is for people, even if they get the infection, is for them to recover from it and not become seriously ill. So that’s something that all of these vaccines do really well. Of course, there are different levels. You read about the efficacy trials. They may range from 70 to 90 per cent. But in terms of just looking at the prevention of severe disease and hospitalisation, they’re all very good, over 90 per cent effective”
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She reiterated that these COVID vaccines vary in the protection against getting the infection. Dr Swaminathan added,
Ideally, you know, you’d like a vaccine which completely prevents you from getting infected therefore, you can’t get ill. But none of the vaccines that we have currently is 100 per cent protective. So this is why even if you’re vaccinated, you can get the infection, but the chances are you’ll get very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all and that the chances of getting seriously ill are really, really low.
Dr Swaminathan said that there are two very good reasons to get vaccinated. The first is to protect yourself from getting severely ill if you catch the infection, she said and explained,
We know that there’s a certain proportion of people of all age groups who do get severely ill and you could have a chance of dying from this disease. And this is what we want to protect. So that’s why you want to get vaccinated in the first place. But secondly, if you get vaccinated and yes, you may still get the infection because we know that these vaccines are not going to protect you a 100 per cent from the infection. So there is a small risk you get infected and you could pass it on to others. Why do you want to take the risk of doing that?
Dr Swaminathan lastly said what we need to do in the world today is to break those chains of transmission, get a control on this disease.
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.