Q. How effective do you find the new measures announced by the government to tackle the resurgence of Covid-19?
A. All these are scientific study-based measures, hence quite effective. Whenever any vaccine comes, it is required to be studied and tested first before getting administered to kids.
Q. What is the booster dose all about?
A. It should be termed as a precaution dose. It is the third dose. In our country, a large number of people have been administered COVISHIELD, which is a vector-based vaccine. Scientific fraternity is of the view that after a vector vaccine dose, booster dose of any protein sub-unit-based vaccine will work. The government has approved recombinant nano-particle protein-based vaccine by Novavax company.
Q. How safe are the people who have been vaccinated with two doses against the threat of Omicron?
A. Whether any person has been infected with Omicron or any other variant, it can be known only after genome sequencing. Now, the government sends all the samples for genome sequencing tests. How many old and Omicron strains are there can be known after the meta-analysis in the coming days. Statistical values analysis of those people who have got infected by Omicron despite being vaccinated earlier—will reveal this. However, we can say that this strain is a bit less serious. But we need to follow all the corona safety protocols including vaccination.
Q. There are people in the country who have not got even the first dose, and the below 15 population has not been vaccinated. What more needs to be done to safeguard our population?
A. We need to place more emphasis on individual and family protection. Only that community can be considered safe in which the individuals protect themselves and their families. On a larger scale, it will prove to be successful on district and then state levels. In short, I would say it is imperative to safeguard ourselves at the individual level. Any mission, whether big or small, becomes successful only with the right kind of knowledge, attitude and practice.
We don’t have any dearth of knowledge now vis-a-vis this infection as we are already looking at it for the last two years. But some people are deliberately indulging in risky behaviour. Because of their wrong attitude, the entire society comes under threat and gets affected.
Q. Why haven’t we been able to develop any medicine to prevent Covid infection?
A. It’s not that there isn’t any medicine. For example, anti-viral drug Molnupiravir has been developed and it’s working on some people. In terms of the medicines and vaccines development, we have already achieved a considerable feat. However, due to lack of sufficient study, it will take some more time to develop a sure shot cure of this infection. We all must understand that an epidemic of such a large magnitude occurs only once in a century and all the concerned authorities are continuously engaged in finding out the remedy of it.
Q. What more is required to prevent Covid and its effects on the people in such a scenario?
A. While Covid appropriate behaviour is the biggest known remedy currently, a balanced approach allowing socio-economic activities is also required urgently. We will have to live life very carefully for some more time to adjust ourselves in the new normal.
Q. How do you find night curfew applied in some states to prevent the spread of the virus?
A. Night curfew is not at all based on any scientific findings, moreover, the movement of people is already reduced in night; so, it’s not at all advisable. Night curfew is being looked at by the World Health Organization (WHO) to know whether it has any scientific base or not. It’s not an evidence-based programme, but only an administrative step. We haven’t got any evidence in terms of the growing number of Corona cases getting reduced due to the night curfew. Ours is a highly populous country and we need such measures that help us in segregating people at all locations where they usually gather, like the marketplaces and other such places.
Q. What is your view of the recent meaures taken by the government in the fight against Covid-19?
A. The government is well-prepared to tackle with the corona resurgence. Medically, the conclusion will depend on the further studies of the evidence and findings. Various vaccines, including nasal vaccines, are also in the pipeline. Steps are being taken with utmost precaution and we will surely make considerable progress in defeating this virus.
Q. What more is required? Isn’t it necessary to vaccinate the entire population irrespective of their age?
A. Efforts are underway and very soon we will be able to include all the age groups in the vaccination drive. The idea has been to vaccinate the vulnerable age group first. Now we have been able to develop new vaccines as well to vaccinate all.
(The interviewer is a senior journalist, formerly associated with Realty Plus magazine.)