India has fared better in the fight against Covid-19 and witnessed controlled waves unlike other countries like Hong Kong and Canada that have or are witnessing fifth and sixth waves, Dr Nivedita Gupta, Head of Virology at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has told News18.com.
“India did perform really well except in the second wave or ‘Delta’ wave. Otherwise, so far, we have controlled the waves. The primary reason behind why other countries have seen multiple waves is their restricted Covid-19 policies led by lockdowns,” Dr Gupta said, explaining that the countries that followed the ‘Zero Covid’ policy ended up seeing a surge in cases as soon as they started releasing the lockdowns.
Gupta emphasised that the kind of vaccines used in India, particularly Covishield and Covaxin, could be the reason for India’s performance in comparison to other countries.
“While there is no data to prove that the vaccines used in India could be the reason behind protecting us better than the vaccines used in the western countries, there is no data to rule out this possibility either,” she said.
“The natural infection, high sero-positivity rate accompanied by the use of right vaccines followed by timely intervention of boosters might have helped India in controlling the waves and managing the pandemic better than some of the developed countries.”
‘No Reason to Panic Over Fresh Surge
With no new variants in sight and only the Omicron variant’s sub-lineages around, there is no reason to create panic over the fresh surge in Covid-19 cases, Gupta said.
She, however, added: “It goes without saying that the need to take precautions such as masking, maintaining social distance, and hand hygiene remains top priority.”
Also, the uptake of booster doses has remained poor, which is not a good sign, she said.
“Elderly and people with comorbidities should definitely come forward to take booster shots. Since the government has opened up boosters for all above 18, it is advisable for all adults to be boosted. Parents should also be proactive in getting their children vaccinated,” ICMR’s top scientist said.
‘Schools Should Be the Last to Close Down
According to Dr Gupta, schools should be the last place to close down as it will create mental health issues among children. “I strongly suggest that schools run normally and there is no scope for closing schools again. Children have been mentally harassed in the last two years,” she said, explaining further that “the impact on children’s mental health is far more dangerous than the impact of Covid illness on them.”
“Among children, till now, no serious illness is being documented due to Covid-19,” she said.
She, however, added: “What could go wrong with children going to school is they become a carrier of infection and, in turn, infect the elderly or co-morbid people back home… But these adults are largely protected by vaccines and top-up doses.”