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Vaccination will give immunity against COVID-19, say experts

Ever since the government introduced vaccines in the country mid-January, there have been several concerns. What if there is a second surge? Will the government impose another lockdown? Are vaccines safe and efficacious? Will they really protect people from COVID-19?

Three experts who participated in a panel discussion on Thursday dispelled the myths regarding the vaccines and put to rest fears and concerns about their efficacy.

V. Ramasubramanian, an infectious diseases specialist and an adviser to the State government on the control of COVID-19, said the country had been protected, thanks to its young population. Only 6% of the population was over the age of 60 years. However, currently several States were seeing a rise in the number of cases again.

The surge could be contained if people remained sensible and followed safety protocols, such as wearing masks, washing their hands and maintaining physical distancing, pointed out V. Ravi, retired professor of neuroviology from NIMHANS and nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2, Karnataka.

The human body builds immunity in two ways – from infection or through vaccination.

“For any respiratory pandemic there will be a second wave,” he explained. A surge can be contained only by aggressively testing, tracking, and contact tracing, he added.

Despite the surge, why were even healthcare workers hesitant to take the vaccine? Saranya Narayan, chief microbiologist at Neuberg Diagnostics, which organised the panel discussion on ‘Variants and Vaccination’, said lack of information and awareness about the need for vaccination was the reason. She said only when healthcare workers in her own organisation were educated did they agree to be vaccinated.

Now that several States were seeing a surge in cases, would the government consider another lockdown? Dr. Ramasubrmanian said the lockdown was a draconian move and may not be an option.

The experts said partial lockdowns, night curfews and containment zones would continue to be enforced. Among the tests, RT-PCR was the international gold standard test, they said.

As for the vaccines’ efficacy on variants, the experts said nearly half a dozen vaccines had been developed. Though they had been fast-tracked, the routine protocols had not been bypassed, Dr. Ravi said.

The experts agreed that there was no doubt that the vaccination offered protection against the infection. Vaccines helped develop immunity.

If the immune response is weak, the virus could replicate in the body. Vaccination would protect people with comorbidities too, they pointed out. “If you have a comorbidity, go ahead and take the vaccine. We are only worried about how effective the vaccine is, not the safety,” said Dr. Ramasubramanian.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 12:57:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/vaccination-will-give-immunity-against-covid-19-say-experts/article33936597.ece

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