Stories of the COVID-19 outbreak coming out of India are just absolutely "heart-wrenching" and "horrifying", America's Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said here.
Indian-American Murthy, who has become the US Surgeon General for the second time, has lost seven of his family members, both in the United States and India.
"We talk to our family there on a daily basis. They are really struggling. The stories coming out of India are just absolutely heart-wrenching, and they're horrifying, where it's the kind of circumstance that we hope never comes to be in our country or in our communities," Murthy told the media on Wednesday.
"But what India is seeing now are more than 350,000 people a day getting infected. They're seeing the hospital systems in many cities on the brink, unable to meet the full demands, and they're running out of oxygen. They're in a very, very difficult place right now," he said.
Responding to a question, Murthy said he was very pleased to see the United States step up and extend help to India in its hour of crisis.
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.
"The US government will also be sending strike teams from the CDC and the USAID, Agency for International Development, to help India by working with their teams to strengthen laboratory capacity, to help with infection prevention and control," he added.
"This is what we have to do broadly across the world, because global pandemics require global cooperation and mutual support. And we know that when there's uncontrolled spread of the virus in any part of the world, that means that variants can arise, variants which may over time become resistant to the protection that we get from vaccines, which could mean a real problem for us here in the United States," Murthy said.
He said that it is in America’s interests to make sure that countries around the world are protected, that they have vaccine, and the ability to limit the spread of infection.