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GOPIO-Manhattan Experts Educate Indian American Community on COVID-19, Vaccines


NEW YORK, NY- The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin’s Manhattan chapter, in collaboration with the Indian Consulate in New York, Jan. 15 met virtually, presenting their experts to educate the Indian American community on COVID-19 and the vaccines being released.

In his opening remarks, Consul General of India in New York Randhir Jaiswal, while acknowledging the challenges faced by humanity due to COVID, expressed hope.

“There is optimism for the new year and we hope to put this pandemic away,” the ambassador said.

Dr. Arnab Ghosh, a physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering specializing in adult bone marrow transplantation and an immunologist, moderated the lively session, with three expert panelists, who are on the front line, working towards mitigating the challenges posed by Covid-19 in New York.

Dr. Monika Shah, a physician in Memorial Sloan Kettering specializing in diagnosing and managing a broad range of infectious diseases, including Covid-19 patients, gave a broad introduction to “What is Covid-19?”

On vaccines, Shah explained the differences between the vaccines created in India and in the U.S., stating that both versions are meant to generate antibodies against viral components to protect from the virus.

Dr. Sunanda Gaur is a pediatric infectious disease specialist and professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

As its director of the Clinical Research Center, she is actively involved in leading clinical trials related to antimicrobials and infectious diseases including Covid-19 and educated the audience on “Covid-19 among kids.”

“The good news is that children in general do well with this virus. Most children were spared from it and they are not normally tested for the virus,” she said.

Gaur was of the opinion that “It is safer to send kids to school.” Stating that children can transmit the virus, Gaur said, “Children are not the drivers of the virus. Kids over 10 years of age are more likely to transmit than the younger children.”

Dr. Madhury Ray, who works at the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and has built systems for public health emergency preparedness and response against Covid-19, explained why Covid-19 is more deadly than prior pandemics. “We are seeing more travel and interaction than ever before in human history. You create a situation where a virus with mutation has the ability to infect human beings,” she pointed out.

Ray also highlighted the slow but expanding access to the vaccination program in New York City. She pointed to several web resources where the closest points of distribution of the vaccine can be found.

“We do not know how long the immunity from the vaccine lasts. Until herd immunity is achieved, we need to be cautious even after vaccine.”

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