Doctor V Ravi said the nationwide lockdown that has been in place since March 25 has helped stall the massive spread of the deadly infectious disease until now
A senior virologist from India has warned that the novel coronavirus may infect half of the country’s population by the end of 2020, if further relaxations are introduced to lockdown rules after May 31.
Dr V Ravi, Head, Neurovirology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans), said: “By the year-end, up to 50 percent people (of India) will be infected (by the novel coronavirus).”
The doctor said the nationwide lockdown that has been in place since March 25 has helped stall the massive spread of the deadly infectious disease until now, but a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 patients would be “inevitable” in the days to come.
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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.
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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.
However, he also stated that “we will have to learn to live with the virus” and pointed out that more deaths occur due to reasons other than COVID-19.
The H1N1 virus itself had a mortality rate of more than six percent, but no lockdown was imposed during its outbreak since there "was no social media to create panic" then, the virologist added.
His statement comes at a time when the Centre is planning to lift more lockdown restrictions to enable economic activity.
A report by Mint, quotes Dr Ravi as saying that almost 90 percent of India’s COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, and it is unlikely they would spread the virus. However, the remaining 10 percent requires hospitalisation, of whom some may even require ventilator support.
The virologist, who heads the expert committee on novel coronavirus in Karnataka, suggested more precautions be taken to protect the elderly population and people with co-morbidities from contracting the disease.
He has reportedly also suggested states to do away with institutional quarantine, as it would become impossible to house the thousands of people who would be arriving in the coming months. As such, overcrowding would lead to further risk of virus spread then.To follow our full coverage on coronavirus, click here