As the government conducts dry runs to ensure the effective roll-out and is likely see the first shots against Covid-19 administered outside clinical trials by January 14, most Indians feel everyone should keep up Covid-19 prevention methods till a large section is actually vaccinated.
In a survey conducted by YouGov in association with News18, it was found that six in ten (64%) urban Indians feel that everyone should be subjected to the same coronavirus restrictions which include wearing the mask and using a sanitizer until most people have been vaccinated in the country. While one in five (19%) wish that those who have been vaccinated for the virus should no longer be subjected to any restrictions.
The majority of the people who felt that the restrictions should not apply were part of the 40+ age group (37%).
A majority of women (66%) as compared to (62%) men feel that all people should be still following precautions instead of being exempt.
By demographic, people in East India felt vaccinated people should be exempt from the precautions (24%) and a majority of people in Tier 3 cities (21%) also mirrored this sentiment.
News18 conducted the survey in partnership with YouGov. The survey ran between 29th December 2020 and 3rd January 2021 and was conducted among 1015 urban Indian respondents.
A majority already side with restrictions still applying until almost everyone is vaccinated, science also agrees with it.
“People should continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing until there is a better understanding of the effect of the vaccinated population on transmission,” says top vaccine expert Gagandeep Kang.
Since vaccines are also administered in doses, it takes time for the body to actually build resistance to the virus. If anything, we’ve seen how Pfizer and Moderna trials tracked only how many vaccinated people became sick with COVID-19.
That leaves open the possibility that some vaccinated people get infected without developing symptoms and could then silently transmit the virus — especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks.
If vaccinated people are silent spreaders of the virus, they may keep it circulating in their communities, putting unvaccinated people at risk.
“A lot of people are thinking that once they get vaccinated, they’re not going to have to wear masks anymore,” said Michal Tal, an immunologist at Stanford University. “It’s really going to be critical for them to know if they have to keep wearing masks because they could still be contagious.”
In most respiratory infections, including the new coronavirus, the nose is the main port of entry. The virus rapidly multiplies there, jolting the immune system to produce a type of antibodies that are specific to mucosa, the moist tissue lining the nose, mouth, lungs and stomach. If the same person is exposed to the virus a second time, those antibodies, as well as immune cells that remember the virus, rapidly shut down the virus in the nose before it gets a chance to take hold elsewhere in the body.
The coronavirus vaccines, in contrast, are injected deep into the muscles and quickly absorbed into the blood, where they stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. This appears to be enough protection to keep the vaccinated person from getting ill.
Some of those antibodies will circulate to the nasal mucosa and stand guard there, but it’s not clear how much of the antibody pool can be mobilized or how quickly. If the answer is not much, then viruses could bloom in the nose — and be sneezed or breathed out to infect others.