New Delhi: Amid the discussions and conversations of the third wave of COVID-19 that could hit India soon, AIIMS Chief Randeep Guleria tells NDTV that the country may say a rise in the number of daily cases in the near future. Dr Guleria said that this timeline depends upon how Indians behave when it comes to the COVID appropriate behaviour and says that if more and more people are vaccinated, the third wave will not be as severe.
If we look at the sero survey, we can see that there is still a large number of people who are susceptible and they have not been vaccinated either. So they are likely to get the infection at some point which may lead to some increase in the number of cases. The spread of the infection will vary on the degree of vaccination in a particular area, the degree of COVID appropriate behaviour, and the degree of people who have already been infected based on the sero survey, Dr Guleria said.
Dr Guleria also said that the vaccines are working against hospitalisation and deaths due to COVID-19 and this has been seen in the UK where infections have gone up but the deaths and hospitalisation haven’t gone up.
Dr Guleria also said that the country is likely to start vaccinating children by September. He further underlined that vaccinating children will be an important move to break the chain of transmission.
With over 44 crore doses of vaccines given in India so far, the country has inoculated nearly 6 per cent of its population while the government aims to vaccinate all adults by the end of this year.
I think Zydus has already done the trials and they’re waiting for the emergency authorisation. The Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin trials should be over by August or September, and by that time we should get approval. Pfizer vaccine has been already approved by the FDA (US regulator – Food and Drug Administration). Hopefully, by September, we should start vaccinating children, and that will be a big boost as far as breaking the chain of transmission is concerned, Dr Guleria said.
India is yet to clear a vaccine for children amid concern over a third wave. Recently, the European medicines watchdog approved the use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12 to 17. In May, the United States had authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years old.
We need to get our own vaccines too, that’s why both Bharat Biotech and Zydus are important. Getting the Pfizer vaccine will also be helpful, as there is enough data to suggest it’s safe, but we can’t be sure if we will get the required numbers. We will hopefully have more than one vaccine for children by September, Dr Guleria explained,
A study published earlier this week by The Lancet underlined that “living with 11-17 year olds increases the risk of COVID infection by 18-30 per cent.” Addressing this finding, Dr Guleria,
It’s an important issue. Vulnerable people like the elderly or those having illnesses are at an increased risk of getting the infection in such cases. That’s one of the reasons why people are worried about children going to school. they may get a mild infection, but they may pass it to their grandparents. We need more data, but this is something that has been shown even with influenza.
Furthermore, Dr Guleria also said that sero survey 4, which found that about 67 per cent of the country’s population has developed antibodies, is ‘encouraging to see.’
What is encouraging is the sero survey this time also looked at the younger population also. There was a lot of worry that children may be vulnerable in the third wave. The survey suggested that even children may have got the infection, and to some extent, they’re protected, he explained.
India can hope to reopen its schools fully by the end of this year as children get vaccinated, the AIIMS chief lastly said.
I personally feel, in a graded manner, physical classes should start. A lot of children who don’t have access to online classes are suffering. By October, November or end of the year, when children start getting vaccinated, we should be in a position that schools open fully, Dr Guleria said.
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.