Indian Strains of COVID Could Be More Infectious: AIIMS Chief
Dr Randeep Guleria added that the new strain is “highly transmissible and dangerous” and could cause re-infections.
As reports of a new strain of coronavirus in Maharashtra emerge, AIIMS Chief, Dr Randeep Guleria on Saturday, 20 February, told NDTV that herd immunity, especially in the case of the new Indian strains – found in Amravati and Akola – is a “myth” because at least 80 percent of the population needs to have developed anti-bodies to fight the virus.
The doctor added that the new strain is “highly transmissible and dangerous” and could cause re-infections for those who have previously developed anti-bodies. Guleria attributed the re-infections to “immune escape mechanism” of variants of the virus.
Advising people to maintain “Covid appropriate behaviour”, Guleria emphasised on the importance of getting the vaccine nevertheless, saying that although the person may not be immune to the new strain, they are likely to develop a milder version of it. Thereafter, the vaccine may be effective with reduced efficacy, added the report.
The way forward for India is aggressively test, isolate infections and carry out contact tracing, opined the AIIMS chief. The vaccines may need to be modified in accordance to the new mutations, for which Guleria recommended carrying out regular surveillance for data collection, noted NDTV.
A Maharashtra government official had earlier reported that there are around 240 new strains of the virus and there was no need to panic as protocol to contain the virus such as contact tracing is already underway, reported Times of India. The report added that ICMR is closely watching the developments in Maharashtra.
COVID Numbers Spiking
On Saturday, India reported 10,977,387 confirmed COVID-19 cases as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Of these, 13,993 were reported in the last 24 hours — this is the highest one-day spike since 29 January.
Across the country, five states are seeing a rise in the number of COVID cases and fresh infections despite having a dip in November and December, said the Centre on Saturday, 20 February. The last week has seen a spike in India’s seven-day average of new cases.
“In the past week, Maharashtra has exhibited a spike in the number of daily new cases, accounting for highest number of daily new cases in the country today. In last 24 hours, 6,112 daily new case has been reported in the state.” said the Centre.
This news also comes along with the rising cases of mutations in India, as four cases of the South African variant and 187 UK variant patients have been confirmed.
(With inputs from NDTV and Times of India)
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