A new mutated variant of the virus responsible for Covid-19 is causing pneumonia in the early stages of the disease in Maharashtra, an expert said on Friday. This mutated virus has also created the havoc of getting re-infected.
This expert was Dr. Subhash Salunkhe, advisor to Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force. He further told India Today, “The death rate has not increased so far but we cannot say the situation will remain the same. Doctors have to take care of it.”
Five states, including Maharashtra, have witnessed a sudden spurt in cases. On Saturday, AIIMS director Dr. Randeep Guleria explained that the new virus strain found in Maharashtra could be highly transmissible and dangerous.
“It is imperative to maintain ‘COVID-19-appropriate behavior’, he said. Adding, “India needs to go back to aggressive measures of testing, contact tracing and isolating infections”.
It is definitely true that people have started taking the virus very lightly. It is evident with local public transport resuming to normal, and educational institutions opening without taking care of the necessary precautions. Such actions have worsened the circumstances further.
More than 21 percent of the populace, aged 10 years or above, has shown proof of past exposure to the virus in the Indian Council of Medical Research’s’ (ICMR) most recent public sero-overview out on February 4. But Dr. Guleria warns that that herd immunity is a myth in India. At least 80 percent of people need to have antibodies for the whole of the population to be protected, which can only come about through vaccination. This raises further questions. While vaccines are effective, they might lack impact due to the mutation of the virus.
In conversation with National Herald India, 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 re-infection.”
He additionally gave the case of the Brazilian city Manaus, which accomplished group insusceptibility in October. However, it is presently combating the second Coronavirus wave. He additionally affirmed that no sero overviews done have recommended India being close to accomplishing the group insusceptibility.
“They (Brazil) had claimed that they got heard immunity with almost 70 percent of the population being protected because of the past infection. And yet because of the Brazilian variant and waning immunity many people got infected again. And now they are in a terrible situation because of the resurgence of cases,” he noted.
Nonetheless, he stresses on the importance of vaccination in India’s fight against the coronavirus. He expects the vaccines to change with time as well, tackling not only the “emerging variants” but giving more robust immunity that also lasts longer.
The government’s vaccination plan relies upon making group insusceptibility by vaccinating a minimum number of individuals. In the primary period of inoculation, the government intends to vaccinate 3 crore wellbeing workers and frontline workers. After, it will proceed to the 27 crore individuals who are over the age of 50 years or have co-morbidities.