Are existing Covid vaccines good enough to offer protection against Omicron? Here’s what needs to be done as per AIIMS Chief

Dr Guleria emphasized on the need of tweaking current Covid-19 vaccines so that they offer protection against emerging variants

Dr Randeep Guleria also discussed the topic of vaccine equity and that both rich and poor nations should have equal access to life saving vaccines.

Characteristics of Omicron are not clear but vaccine formulations can be tweaked to offer protection, finds the Director of All India Institute of Medical Science, Randeep Guleria. Speaking at the 22nd Dr VS Prayag memorial Oration-2021, the health expert said that the next two to three weeks is crucial in determining how the new ‘variant of concern’ will play out in terms of its severity, transmissibility and immunity invasion.

The oration titled ‘Covid 19 and lungs lessons learnt and the way forward’ saw the participation of several noted physicians, ICMR epidemiologists and members of the Association of Physicians of India, held at the Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration, reported Indian Express.

Dr Guleria emphasized on the need of tweaking current Covid-19 vaccines so that they offer protection against emerging variants. He cited the example of new influenza vaccines coming every year to keep up with the viral mutations. Talking about how immunologists are concerned about vaccines being not effective against new variants, he said the problem can be dealt with by altering its composition.

He also discussed about vaccine equity and that both rich and poor nations should have equal access to life saving vaccines.

Talking about the rise in zoonotic infections like avian influenza, Ebola, H1N1, Zika, Nipah, he said increase in connectivity, trade and travel along with growing urbanisation and encroachment into a new environment is to be blamed. He further stressed on the concept of ‘One Health’ where both human and animal sectors work together to ensure food safety and security.

He further pressed on the need of solutions from local and global level to prevent future pandemics keeping in mind interconnections of humans and animal health and the health of the ecosystem.

Dr Parikshit Prayag, working as an infectious disease expert at Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital also emphasized on the need for booster dose of Covid vaccine. and Dr Suhas Erande and Dr A G Unnikrishnan delivered guest lectures on diabetes.

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