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Very unlikely India will see a third wave: AIIMS chief

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Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 23

In a significant comment on the future course of the Covid-19 pandemic, leading medical expert and AIIMS New Delhi chief Randeep Guleria on Tuesday said it was very unlikely that India would see a third wave.

He predicted that Covid-19, like swine flu (H1N1), would become endemic and the disease would cyclically affect the vulnerable and immune suppressed populations but will not acquire a severe form as previously seen.

Guleria, part of the National Taskforce on Covid-19, which guides policy on vaccination and treatment of Sars-Cov2, also said there was no need for a booster dose in India right now and vaccines being administered to people were holding up fine.

“As the national Covid-19 vaccine programme moves forward with vaccines already holding up in preventing disease and death, the chances of having any huge wave are declining with each passing day. It is very unlikely that we will see a third wave. Covid-19 will become endemic and we will keep seeing cases. It will become like H1N1. People will get sick but the disease will not of the magnitude we saw earlier,” Guleria said on a day when India logged 7,579 the lowest daily new Covid 19 infections, the lowest in 543 days with active cases at the lowest in 536 days despite the passage of nearly three weeks after Divali.

The AIIMS New Delhi Director said a booster dose isn’t needed at the moment.

“The way Covid 19 vaccines are holding out ndash; we are not seeing breakthrough infections, we have a high sero positivity rate and antibody presence. As of now we really do not need a booster dose. We are quite well protected and should focus on getting more and more people covered with the first and the second doses. That is the way to get maximum protection against the disease,” Guleria said.

The leading expert also hailed India’s remarkable journey from 200—when the country was dependent on the WHO for H1N1 vaccines to today when the country is exporting Covid-19 vaccines.

“The last pandemic we saw was the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. We did not have a vaccine then. We had to rely on the WHO for imports. There was a debate as to why the country was not making a vaccine. We have transformed hugely since 2009 and are now exporting Covid-19 vaccine to other countries. That’s the journey we have accomplished,” Guleria said.

AIIMS New Delhi chief was speaking at the launch of Rupa publication “Going Viral”, written by ICMR director general Balram Bhargava. The book details the journey of India’s indigenous Covid 19 shot Covaxin, a Bharat Biotech and ICMR collaboration.

Priority is two dose coverage: VK Paul

Member, Health, NITI Aayog VK Paul today said the expert group on Covid 19 vaccination was studying the “booster question deeply” and awaiting data on the timing of the booster dose, something still under study. “As of now, vaccine priority for any nation is to cover a large number of its people with two doses. There is also a moral dimension. These issues will be deeply examined,” Paul, head of the Covid vaccine taskforce, said on boosters.

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