Biotech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw on March 25 said the 21-day nation-wide lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is needed from the scientific point of view to collect required testing data to fully understand the severity of the disease.
"The government has done the right thing. Scientifically, you need those three weeks," the Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Ltd, told PTI.
One has to step up testing as much more data is needed to know the extent of the affected population, those recovering and recovered and the severity of the disease, Mazumdar-Shaw said. "You need lot of that (data) to give you comfort so that in 21 days you will know that it's now safe enough to fully limp back. Even when the curfew is lifted, do it gradually."
"After 21 days, you need to gradually remove the curfew to keep making sure that every step of curfew that you are removing is actually still keeping the population safe. That is very important," she said. Mazumdar-Shaw stressed that the present period needs to be used to step up testing to collect data.
"I personally believe that in 21 days if you can have enough data to suggest that large number of people is infected, the severity of the disease is quite manageable and low, then I think you will get the comfort," she said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
She said people showing mild symptoms and who are positive, should be quarantined.
"I would like to see more hotels brought into the quarantine–cum-hospital zone. Before they go to hospitals, there are many people who will have mild symptoms who can recover also, they need not go to hospitals and crowd the hospitals," Mazumdar-Shaw said.
“...if you can do all that, then we will be in a good shape when 21-days end to know exactly how we want to go about lifting the curfew," she added.