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COVID-19 crisis far from over, third wave to be more dangerous: CSIR official

The expert clarified that India is nowhere near achieving herd immunity and as such people should continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing and hand hygiene.

February 28, 2021 / 08:38 PM IST
People wearing protective face masks wait in queues to buy train tickets at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station in Mumbai, India. (Representative image: Reuters)

People wearing protective face masks wait in queues to buy train tickets at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station in Mumbai, India. (Representative image: Reuters)

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Director General Shekhar C Mande on Sunday warned that the COVID-19 crisis was far from being over and allowing a "third wave" by lowering our guard is fraught with grave consequences.

Also, continued collaboration across institutions was necessary to come out of the current situation as well as ward off catastrophic situations arising out of climate change and over dependence on fossil fuels which had the potential to wipe out the entire humanity, he said.

Mande was speaking on "India's response to Covid-19 from S & T perspective" at a virtual "National Science Day Lectures," organised by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology here.

The expert clarified that India is nowhere near achieving herd immunity and as such people should continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing and hand hygiene to stay away from getting infected by the virus.

Cautioning the people and the scientific community against allowing "complacency to set in," he warned that a third wave would precipitate a far more dangerous situation than the challenge the country had faced so far.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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RGCB Director Chandrabhas Narayana moderated the digital lectures.

Answering questions from the scientific community, Mande expressed the hope that the Covid-19 vaccines would be effective against the coronavirus variants.

The evidence "is not very strong" that the vaccines would not work against the mutated virus.

"We would like to believe that the vaccines are effective" against the variants as the vaccines worked against the entire part of the virus while the mutation took place on a part of the virus, he explained.

The prevalence of COVID-19 cases had come down not because of herd immunity, but because of other reasons, including wearing of masks and people remaining outdoors during the winter.

The fact that the virus remained suspended in the air in closed areas and it lost its potency in open areas helped a great deal in controlling the spread during the winter, the expertsaid.

Precisely for the same reason, the disease went out of control in the West where people remained indoors during the winter, he added.

Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman of Axilor Ventures, and Jayant Sahasrabudhe, National Organising Secretary of Vijnana Bharati, also delivered lectures.
PTI

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