Health experts said on Thursday that as cases decline, India seems to be heading towards obtaining herd immunity from COVID-19.
Dr (Prof) Sanjay Rai, Professor of Community Medicine at AIIMS, said there is no need to worry about the latest strain of coronavirus found in the UK because it is not as virulent, according to reports.
Perhaps, since cases are coming down in India, we are heading towards herd immunity. One of the classic examples is Maharashtra’s Dharavi slum. It depends on research as far as the number of cases is concerned,” he said.
He also referred to the country’s success in developing and making the COVID-19 vaccine available.
The comments were made at a ‘HEAL-Thy Samvaad‘ webinar, organized by the Heal Foundation to address the dynamics first observed in the UK of the new strain of COVID-19.
Around 25 individuals in India have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom, according to the Union Health Ministry. The 25 people in the health facility are in physical isolation.
Speaking on the complexities of the latest COVID-19 strain, Dr. Amitav Banerjee, Professor, and Head of Community Medicine, Dr. DY Patil Medical College, Pune, highlighted the dependence on the country’s data.
As far as the new strain of COVID-19 is concerned, it is good for us Indians to follow our own data, do research, and not rely on Western data and the rate of occurrence there, based on emerging cases. As the demographic conditions of India are very different from those of western countries, relying on western data could lead us into trouble, he said.
The recovery rate of COVID-19 patients in India is 99 per cent compared to 97 per cent worldwide, he said.
The more lethal or virulent strains do not go far is nature’s way of adaptation. Less virulent strains, however, spread widely, carrying asymptomatic and mild cases in which herd immunity can evolve more rapidly. Therefore, we need to wait and watch in India and be selective in terms of vaccination, and because of the new strain of COVID-19, there is no need to panic,” he said.
Dr. Samiran Panda, Head of the Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases and Director and Scientist of the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) of ICMR, said the UK virus strain has a high transmissibility rate of approximately 60 to 70%, but a high transmissibility rate does not necessarily mean that it also has a high fatality rate.
“Viruses always require a host to get transmitted from one person to another. Following proper COVID appropriate behavior, we can stop SARS-CoV-2 from spreading further. A balanced symbiotic relationship gets evolved over a period of time as viruses go from an epidemic existence to an endemic one and with less virulence potential. The respiratory viruses in particular, through this process, attain relevance as seasonal outbreak causing organisms,” he said.
The latest COVID strain will be more transferable, said Dr. JC Suri, Director, Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Fortis Hospital.
We have no evidence, as of now, to prove that it is dangerous. All of the strains are not scientifically confirmed either. And I don’t think this is going to be an ineffective vaccine. Yes, it’s better to take precautions from the new strain. People should go for institutional quarantine. This is not a virulent variant,’ he said.