Dr NK Arora, the head of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, on Monday said that he does not think the third wave of Covid-19 infections will hit the country in September-October, News18 reported.
However, Arora said that if large gatherings continued to take place in India, no one could stop a third wave. “We are preparing for it [a possible third wave], our attempt is that it should not come,” he told the news channel in an interview.
Arora said with the festival season coming up, Indians must continue to avoid large religious and cultural gatherings. “The latest sero-survey shows 33% population is still susceptible in India,” he told News18.
Arora elaborated on how the government was strengthening its fight against the health crisis “Every new wave likely starts with a ferocious new virus mutation,” he told News18. “Firstly, genome surveillance has been expanded. We now have the capacity of 80,000 genomic analysis every month and there is a weekly bulletin coming out.”
The expert added that the Centre was also working to expand Covid-19 vaccination coverage in India. “And finally, we are strengthening health systems too – ICUs [intensive care units] and pediatric care units are coming up and being operationalised as [are] our oxygen plants.”
India on Tuesday recorded 30,941 new Covid-19 cases, taking the cumulative tally to 3,27,68,880 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. The country’s toll rose by 350 to 4,38,560.
On vaccinating children
Arora said that by early 2022, India should have vaccines available for all children. For now, he said, the government was looking to immunise parents first.
“In children as it is, severe disease and fatalities are uncommon,” the expert told News18. “So, we have to ensure parents are safe first and children automatically become less vulnerable.”
Arora added that children with comorbid conditions will he given priority in vaccination. “We have 44 crore children below the age of 18 years and about 12 crore between 12 and 18 years,” he said. “Usually, less than 1% of kids tend to have co-morbidities.
Arora added: “At the moment, we are looking at one million [10 lakh] children who will be prioritised. Overall, about four million [40 lakh] such children will be given preference. Kids between 12 and 18 years in age with co-morbidities will start getting jabs by October.”
India’s drug regulator granted emergency use authorisation to Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, ZyCov-D, on August 20. This is India’s first vaccine for children aged above 12.
The ZyCov-D is the world’s first DNA vaccine against the coronavirus disease given in three doses. It makes use of a portion of the genetic code – deoxyribonucleic acid or ribonucleic acid – in the SARS-CoV-2 virus to stimulate an immune response against its spike protein, according to the Ahmedabad-headquartered company.
Spike proteins are small bumps on the viruses of the coronavirus family that assist in the infection.