Professor K Vijayaraghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the central government, spoke to CNN-News18 on the ensuing coronavirus pandemic and its treatment, reiterating that India is not in the stage of community transmission and cities and places have to be treated differently to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Excerpts from the interview:
Are we in the stage of community transmission yet?
There are many different contexts. As time progresses, situation in each area will change and will have to be analysed literally on a day to day basis. We are a diverse country.
Would you say Mumbai is in the stage of community transmission? Or other urban settlements and clusters?
In places like Mumbai, with substantial rates of presence of disease, it is important to look at its tracking to bring down the rates. So obviously different type of attention is needed to ensure those places that are green shouldn’t turn red.
Asymptomatic patients can also spread the infection. It is important to carry out contact tracing.
Tell us about vaccines being developed in India and more importantly access to them.
Vaccines are a big challenge. They take a lot of time to make. The likelihood of the success of any given vaccine is low. Vaccine developers have come together, it will be shared.
What about drugs?
If I know something that works and is inexpensive, it should be used. Drugs have a challenge that they have to attack the viral machinery specifically and that is not easy. But the timing is also very important. If they attack the virus early, then they are effective. Sometimes they are taken late and the virus multiplies. The timing is very important. Drug development as well as testing is tough.
Would you say there is an effort to push the use of an expensive medicine like Remdesivir instead of a drug like HCQ which is cheap and easily available?
They are different drugs and work different ways. It isn’t a binary between choosing one over the other. Getting though the tests and science done is important. Costs are not the only parameter -- costs will change in a pandemic.
Will India see a peak in infection?
We are learning about how the spread happens. The big challenge is when things open up -- it depends on what you do.