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Opinion

Despite the vaccine, don’t let your guard down: experts

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Experts welcomed Friday’s steps by a key government panel to approve a coronavirus vaccine, but said the development should not be seen as an opportunity for people to start lowering their guard to prevent Covid infections. 19 soon.

His comments came after the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by the Committee of Experts on Matter of the Central Medicines and Standards Organization (CDSCO), which now must be evaluated for formal approval by the Comptroller General of Medicines of India.

“It is fantastic news that we have a vaccine in such a short time, however, it will backfire if people believe that now is the time to throw precautions out the window. First, the vaccine will be given to a very small number of people at this time. There are not enough doses to immunize everyone in the world at this time. Second, even for those receiving the vaccine, the two doses would be at least a month apart and the immune response will take approximately two weeks to kick in, ”said Dr. Rakesh Mishra, director of the Center for Cell Phones and Biology. Molecular. Some of Covid’s restrictions and appropriate behaviors will need to remain in place for at least six to eight months, he said.

Read more | Why India could quickly catch up on Covid vaccination

He added: “Third, the vaccine is 80-90% effective, which means that there would still be 10-20% susceptible people among the group receiving the vaccine. Therefore, to protect everyone from the disease, people will still need to follow the social vaccinations of wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, and washing their hands frequently. ”

Maintaining restrictions even when the vaccine is available is essential as well because even those who receive the vaccine can continue to transmit it to others who are susceptible.

Dr Shahid Jameel, Director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University and former CEO of the Wellcome Trust / DBT India Alliance said: “This is possibly the best news in a long time. The good thing is that we are manufacturing it and we do not need to go begging for doses. However, people will still have to take precautions because vaccines have been shown to protect against disease and not infection. This means that a vaccinated person can continue to transmit the infection to a susceptible population ”.

Along with the launch of the vaccine in India and other countries, Dr. Jameel emphasized the need to intensify genomic surveillance to detect mutations that may escape the vaccine.

When a large proportion of the population is vaccinated, the virus selectively mutates to evade the immune response generated by the vaccines. This is like over or under use of antibiotics that results in resistant strains of the bacteria. In the vaccine, it usually occurs in people who do not elicit a robust immune response after vaccination, Dr. Jameel said.

“If a virus mutates under the pressure of a vaccine, two things can happen. One, it could mutate in such a way that it is unable to infect human cells so effectively by weakening it. Or it can still infect people effectively and bypass the antibodies, but the T-cell response will continue to work against it, which means it will result in milder disease, ”said Jameel.

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