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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 24 September 2021 3.37 AM IST

New Indian strains of Covid-19 could be more infectious, cause reinfection in people, says AIIMS chief

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NEW DELHI: At a time when five states, including Maharashtra, have witnessed a sudden spurt in coronavirus cases, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria on Saturday said the new Indian strains of coronavirus found in Maharashtra could be highly transmissible and dangerous. Dr Guelria stated that herd immunity for coronavirus is a “myth” in the country because at least 80 per cent of people need to have antibodies for the whole of the population to be protected. He further added that the new variant can even cause re-infections in people who have developed anti-bodies to the virus.

The statement from Dr Guleria comes at a time when Maharashtra and four other states — Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Punjab — have been witnessing a spike in coronavirus numbers over the past week.

At this crucial time, the Centre plans to immunise 3 crore, health workers and frontline workers. And after that, it will be the turn of 27 crore people who are above the age of 50 years or have co-morbidities.

Talking in detail on why herd immunity is not achievable, 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, he added.

Dr Shahshank Joshi, member of Maharashtra’s Covid Task Force has told NDTV that over 240 new strains of the virus have surfaced across India, which are behind the fresh surge of infections the state has been witnessing since last week.

Speaking about if the COVID-19 vaccines in India are effective against the new strain, Dr Guleria said the vaccines will be 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. However, he underscored that getting the vaccine is a must.

In the meantime, experts believe that lockdown is a draconian measure and has limited efficacy in countering the spread of the virus. According to Maharashtra task force member and endocrinologist Dr Shashank Joshi, promotion of “double masking” (wearing two layers of face covering) and formation of micro-containment zones could be effective.

He also said that the distribution of coronavirus vaccine should be decentralized. “There are some issues with the CoWin app which is slowing down the vaccination procedure. If the state gets more powers, it will be helpful to cover more and more people,” he said.

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, technical advisor to the Maharashtra government on the COVID-19 outbreak, said the vaccine on coronavirus is safe as over one crore people in the country have been vaccinated and nobody has died or developed serious complications.

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TAGS: COVID 19, KERALA, INDIA, AIIMS DIRECTOR, RANDEEP GULERIA, MAHARASHTRA, TRANMISSIBLE, DANGEROUS, 80 PERCENT OF PEOPLE, ANTIBODIES, POPULATION, NEW VARIANT, REINFECTIONS, KERALA, MADHYA PRADESH, CHHATTISGARH AND PUNJAB
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