‘Scaling up surveillance, vaccination key to limiting third wave impact’

CCMB Director says no reason to give up COVID protocols

Updated - August 06, 2021 11:54 pm IST

Published - August 06, 2021 08:51 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Over 90 lakh people in Telangana are susceptible to infection as they are either not vaccinated so far or have no antibodies, according to officials.

Over 90 lakh people in Telangana are susceptible to infection as they are either not vaccinated so far or have no antibodies, according to officials.

Stepping-up surveillance, vaccination and following protocols would hold the key to the severity of the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Vinay K. Nandicoori said on Friday.

Stating that there was no reason to give a go-by to the basic safety protocols — maintaining social distancing and wearing mask — he said they were increasingly relevant even now when the size of population not vaccinated and without antibodies was coming down, increasing the possibility of infection among the remaining sections.

Speaking at a FICCI webinar on ‘COVID-19: Vaccination & The Next Wave’, he said that changes in receptor binding, immune-escape mutations and potential to escape diagnostics would make the third wave possible. He, however, said that the intensity of the third wave could be reduced by not allowing super spreader events — cultural, religious, entertainment, sports/games, social gatherings such as weddings, political events — to prevent and slow down the virus transmission.

He suggested that models integrating detection for test and trace, sequencing for variants of concern, sero-surveys, vaccination effectiveness surveys and viral load in environment would be needed to monitor and forecast outbreaks.

Subodh Kandamuthan, director and professor of Centre for Health Care Management at ASCI, underscored the need to test continuously since new Delta variants were a cause of concern. He also emphasised the need for private sector collaboration at all levels of care – surveillance, testing, diagnostics and treatment.

Opening up economy does not mean giving a go-by to COVID norms as both lives and livelihoods were important. He said the proportion of healthcare budget has not really increased either at the Centre and in States, and the governments were required to focus on it to prevent pandemics in future.

Stating that over 90 lakh population was susceptible to infection in Telangana as they were either not vaccinated so far or have no infection/antibodies, Officer on Special Duty to Chief Minister Gangadhar Taduri said the impact of third could be much lesser and shorter as a sero-survey conducted by the CCMB had found that 63% population of the State had developed antibodies.

Subscribing to the view that the length of third wave could be shorter, Raches Ella, clinical project lead at Bharat Biotech, said tweaking the vaccine strategy would hold the key to mitigating the pandemic in the days to come as the virus would keep tweaking itself. He felt that combination of intra-muscular and intranasal vaccine may lead to enhanced efficacy.

Oncologist Hari Menon and paediatrician K. Bhasker Reddy were among those who spoke at the webinar.

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