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India should work with other countries to boost COVID-19 vaccine availability: Dr Anthony Fauci

On India's decision to extend the gap between two Covishield doses, Dr Anthony Fauci said that it is a "reasonable approach".

May 14, 2021 / 10:34 AM IST
Dr Fauci, who is the Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is also the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.

Dr Fauci, who is the Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is also the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.

United States' top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said that India needs to collaborate with other countries and boost its COVID-19 vaccine production capabilities to inoculate its entire population.

"It's a very very large country with a population of about 1.4 billion people, you only have a couple of percentage of the people who are fully vaccinated and over about 10 percent or so that have at least one dose so you've got to work out arrangements with other countries, other companies at the same time as ramping up your own capability of making vaccines, " he told ANI.

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On resuming flights to and from India, Fauci said that it depends on the level of infection in India. "India has a very very high level of infection and that would mean that it would be very difficult to resume travel there right now," he said.

Dr Fauci, who is the Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is also the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.

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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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Explained: Will extending gap between two Covishield doses help save more people?

On India's decision to extend the gap between two Covishield doses, Fauci said that it is a "reasonable approach".

"When you are in a very difficult situation, the way you are in India, you have to try and figure out ways to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as you can, so I believe that it is a reasonable approach to do," Fauci told the news agency.

The government on May 13 announced that it has accepted the COVID-19 Working Group's recommendation for extending the gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks.

"Based on the available real-life evidence, particularly from the UK, the COVID-19 Working Group agreed to increase the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of Covishield vaccine. No change in the interval of Covaxin vaccine doses was recommended," the health ministry said.

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first published: May 14, 2021 10:34 am

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