Dr Gagandeep Kang on the road ahead with COVID-19, booster shots & on inoculating approach for children

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Updated: September 18, 2021 10:27 AM

Today, after being the first to deal with the highly transmissible Delta variant and to have taken a big hit, India is now, she feels, is on a right trajectory especially with vaccinations picking up.

On the fears of a potential third wave, she says if we wind up in a situation where people are susceptible and the virus and its variants are highly transmissible then there is a risk.

The COVID-19 caseload nationally seems a bit manageable with daily new cases less than 30,000 and while there are concerns in certain pockets of the country like say in Kerala, parts of North Eastern India and perhaps Maharashtra, the question on most people’s minds is on what next?

How real are the fears of a potential third wave? What to make of a situation if the pandemic abates but the virus survives and remains endemic? With countries abroad protecting citizens with third and even fourth shots, where are we on booster dose against COVID-19? Who should be the first to get them? Questions abound as also, with the economy opening up and schools reopening, where is India on vaccination for children. There is only one vaccine approved for adolescents and the supplies of this will start from October. But then, it is a new technology – a DNA vaccine. How safe is it for children in the long-run? To held address these questions and much more, Dr Gagandeep Kang, India’s top virologist, professor at the Christian Medical College, Vellore and a member of the COVID working group, spoke to Financial Express online.

On the fears of a potential third wave, she says if we wind up in a situation where people are susceptible and the virus and its variants are highly transmissible then there is a risk. Things could also get worse if the variant has the characteristic of immune escape. However, she feels with the pace of inoculation picking up the risk of more people being susceptible is reduced.

 

Today, after being the first to deal with the highly transmissible Delta variant and to have taken a big hit, India is now, she feels, is on a right trajectory especially with vaccinations picking up. The focus however now needs to be on micro-level planning with a focussed strategy on how to stay safe to ensure that we do not end up inviting a third wave. She is for systems that can track early warning and having processes in place and geared up to quickly respond to any upticks or triggers. The control measures will now increasingly need to be driven locally as there cannot be a one size-fits all approach now. She also spoke on the norms guiding the approval of testing kits for COVID-19, which will increasingly become even more crucial in the months ahead.

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