File image: A man walks past a graffiti of people wearing protective masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic on a street in Navi Mumbai, India on January 21, 2021. (Image: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas)
More than 1.66 crore vaccines have been administered in India since January 16 when the nationwide drive – pegged as the world’s largest – first started. Thus, many beneficiaries, especially healthcare and frontline workers have by now received their second shot as part of the two-dose regime.
As of March 4, India had reported more than 1.11 crore confirmed COVID-19 cases. The death toll from the outbreak in the country stood at over 1.57 lakh. While more than 1.08 crore patients had recovered, 1.70 lakh cases remained ‘active’. Globally, more than 11.50 crore individuals have been infected by the virus and over 26.57 lakh people have died so far.
Many regions in India, including the worst-affected state of Maharashtra, are witnessing resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
Why speedy and proper immunisation is the key
A speedy rollout of vaccines is being seen as the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normalcy in the pandemic-battered global economy.
With the vaccination drive now having opened for the general public (currently for those above the age of 60 and over 45 years with comorbidities), the inoculation exercise is picking up pace. On March 2, long queues were seen in Mumbai, Maharashtra and other parts of the country with more people waiting to get vaccinated.
Availability of vaccines may have led to complacency among masses and some people avoiding wearing masks while in public.
According to some experts’ estimates, even an 80 percent drop in transmissibility may be enough for vaccinated people to stop wearing masks. This is especially in areas where a majority of the population has been immunised and the infection rates are falling.
However, it could take several months before a large country like India is able to vaccinate a significant proportion of the population for the herd immunity to kick in.
Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the coronavirus pandemic
It is also to be noted that these vaccines are fully effective only when administered in the two-dose regime. Investigators in Scotland found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing infection was 70 percent after the first dose, and 85 percent after the second. Thus, getting the second shot is crucial for the jab to work in the way it is intended to.
While vaccines are likely to prevent you from getting infected by COVID-19, they may not stop you from spreading the novel coronavirus to others who have not been vaccinated.
According to a report by The New York Times, scientists are still unsure if vaccinated people spread the virus to those who are not vaccinated. The research is not clear on exactly how well vaccines stop the coronavirus from sticking to an immunised person’s nose before spreading to others.
Studies are currently on in many parts of the world to find out if vaccination helps curb transmission in a significant manner.
COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: All you need to know about manufacturing and pricing
So, what precautions should people who have been vaccinated take until we have the results of these studies? According to experts, wearing a face mask is the most important measure.
Besides this, those who are vaccinated must continue to maintain physical distancing, frequently wash hands and avoid crowded places.
On January 16, while launching India’s vaccination drive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also urged citizens to continue to wear masks and follow other safety protocols.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic