Latest data on coronavirus shows that fresh infections in India have dropped to 28,000 versus recoveries at over 41,000. However, some of the sharp decline in new cases could also be attributed to the trend of weekend dip in case detections.
Separately, the rising number of cases in the US and in other countries with higher vaccination is worrying and raises question of the ability of vaccines to return us to normal lives. Finally, the ICMR has announced that combining of Covishield and Covaxin doses can be more efficacious though study cautions that more research is needed.
To discuss the latest COVID picture, the vaccination situation and the various studies around the battle against the pandemic, CNBC-TV18 spoke to Doctor Rajeev Jayadevan, Scientific Advisor and former President, The Indian Medical Association; leading Epidemiologist Doctor Chandrakant Lahariya and Gautam Menon, Professor, Ashoka University.
Talking about the concept of herd immunity, Jayadevan said the concept of herd immunity is mainly from certain diseases like Polio and smallpox, wherein authorities can vaccinate a certain number of people of the community the unvaccinated also benefit from their protection - that is the concept -- that is blocking the path of the virus to a communicate like placing a road block in front of the virus. While for coronavirus, the concept was never there in the first place because one of the fundamental trait of this virus is that it infects one again and again, he added.
Jayadevan said most coronavirus that infect man, don’t cause harm because it will give little bit of sniff and that is end of it.
“This virus also fall into the same family and so it is conceivable that same traits will be shown, but now we are seeing that even people who are vaccinated, even though vaccinations are good at preventing diseases, the vaccinated people are picking up the virus and having same viral load.”
“This means, these people are also participating in spreading the virus in the community. So, the fundamental concept of herd immunity does not apply for this particular infection but that does not mean vaccination should not be done,” he added.
“Vaccination is to protect people from falling severely ill or dying from the diseases and therefore vaccination must proceed but not by claiming that it is the result of herd immunity,” said Jayadevan.
Has vaccination led to a lower surge in infections?
Lahariya said,” “We need to be clear on the purpose of vaccination like Dr Jayadevan said the purpose is to reduce the severe form disease and mortality. So, wherever high vaccinations in countries have been achieved, at least with single dose the number of deaths have come down- be it the UK or other countries. However, we know that there is some evidence of ability to reduce transmission by mRNA-based vaccine, there is hardly any evidence that viral vector vaccines reduce transmissions. So, with all these factors the transmission is happening.”
“As and when new variant emerges, which is more transmissible there is risk of new infection and that is what is happening in the UK, the US - infections are happening, the virus is transmitting but mortality has come down significantly,” said Lahariya.
For the entire discussion, watch the video