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COVID-19 | Omicron: Shutting borders will not stop ‘invisible enemy’, need to analyse data, says Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

WHO also said that countries’ travel bans are having an impact on global cooperation against Omicron and causing challenges to sharing of laboratory samples from South Africa that can help get better grips on the new variant

December 02, 2021 / 09:12 AM IST
Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw


Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has said that travel bans would not necessarily work against containing spread of COVID-19 amid emergence of a new variant Omicron, which was identified in South Africa.

“Do we really think we can stop the spread with travel bans?  We need to analyse data wrt severity of disease n effect of vaccination. Testing is important but shutting borders will not stop entry of an invisible enemy!” (sic) she tweeted on December 2.

Mazumdar-Shaw’s thoughts echo the opinion of the World Health Organisation (WHO), who also said that countries’ travel bans are having an impact on global cooperation against Omicron. On December 1 during its first press briefing since naming the new variant, WHO also said the bans are causing challenges to sharing of laboratory samples from South Africa that can help get better grips on the new variant, AP reported.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for tailored intervention by countries, including testing travellers before and after they arrive in a country, and advised against blanket travel bans that place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.

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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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Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, said international cooperation was continuing, and that researchers in South Africa have been very willing to not only share data, not only share information, but also share samples.

But she said travel bans have caused some challenges for those samples to actually be shipped out of the country. So, there are other implications for these travel bans that are out there.

(With inputs from AP)
Moneycontrol News
first published: Dec 2, 2021 09:12 am

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