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World’s top virologist cautions India as it reopens, here’s the reason

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
World’s top virologist cautions India as it reopens, here’s the reason

New Delhi: As the government has started to ease Covid restriction and is reopening public places and schools, a renowned virologist expressed his opinion that the country does not yet have the sort of safety armour needed to start reopening.

Also Read :- Maharashtra extends restaurant, shop timings; allows amusement parks to reopen from Oct 22

Addressing India Today Conclave 2021, Dr W. Ian Lipkin said on Saturday said even though India has the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world which the country should be proud of, the percentage of India’s population vaccinated against Covid-19 is very low.

“Less than 20 per cent of your population that’s vaccinated. Then 30 per cent of your population under the age of 18 who are not yet eligible for vaccination. So this means that you don’t have the sort of armour that you need to safely reopen in that way,” he said.

Warning about the long-term effect of Covid-19, the virologist said people usually don’t talk about it “which I think is going to be extraordinary in terms of its impact.

“These are not people who necessarily have an acute disease, they may have an only mild form of it, but they remain permanently or at least for a long period, crippled with cognitive dysfunction, shortness of breath, fatigue. This can represent as many as 30 per cent of people who become infected,” Lipkin said.

Also Read :- India reports 13,596 COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours, lowest in 230 days

“These individuals, even if the virus were to magically disappear, might continue to be infected and have a huge impact on their lives for decades to come,” he said.

Lipkin said there were many lessons from the Spanish flu of 1918 which have not been carried forward.

“I hope we will revise our approach in the future. But I’m not even confident that this is the worst of potential pandemics. We need to make sure that whatever we’ve learned here carries forward into the next months and years,” he said.

He warned there are several more variants of SARS-CoV-2 which are circulating.

“There are variants, already circulating, don’t have names. Will they be more capable of transmission? We don’t know. Delta variant seems to be extraordinarily well adapted to spread in humans,” Lipkin said.

Also Read :- India sees lowest rise in daily COVID-19 cases in over 7 months at 14,146

He said the world needs to start thinking not only about vaccines to prevent severe disease, but also that can prevent transmission.

“We need to improve our public health infrastructure, be able to track and trace individuals who have been exposed so that we can adopt a ring vaccination strategy, which was so successful in India in eradicating smallpox.

“Masking, even if these masks are not what I would consider state-of-the-art can also be useful. But people need to change the way they think about themselves and others and be less selfish,” Lipkin added. 

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