All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria, who is a member of the national Covid-19 task force, has said that common people may have to wait till 2022 for a vaccine to be easily available, News18 reported on Sunday.

“For normal people, getting themselves vaccinated will take more than a year,” he said. “In our country, the population is large; we need time to see how the vaccine can be bought from the market like a flu vaccine and take it. That will actually be the ideal situation.”

Guleria also said that the virus will not “vanish with vaccination” but is likely to help with rapid herd immunity. The vaccination will also aid breaking the chain of transmission with fewer people getting infected.

He added that once a vaccine is approved, they would have to chalk out a strategy on distributing it to different parts of the country so that some people get it on priority. “Maintaining the cold chain, having adequate syringes, adequate needles and being able to deliver it to the remotest parts of the country in a seamless manner is the biggest challenge,” he said. “The second challenge is that there is more than one vaccine candidate that is being studied.”

Guleria also denied that India’s cases were being under-reported as all hospitals are taking in patients after a Covid test, adding that the diagnosis of a patient in a severe condition is unlikely to be missed. On a study about parts of Maharashtra developing herd immunity, Guleria said that it was likely that it may have occurred in some areas. However, he added that it would be difficult to say so about certain areas that are more scattered. “In certain pockets, it is likely that herd immunity has developed,” he added. “But to say that it has developed in the entire city would require more data for that claim.”

The AIIMS chief also expressed concern about a surge during the festival season. But added that India’s coronavirus situation was satisfying as the numbers were going down. “It is important to sustain the downward trend for the next 2-3 months; then we can say we have been successful in getting over the pandemic,” he added.

The doctor said that if cases increase, officials may have to consider regional lockdowns, and local containment zones may have to be identified. He added that aggressive contact tracing has to be done, but “Covid fatigue” has been prevalent among healthcare workers.

Guleria said there had to be equal distribution of vaccines in developing and developed countries so that it reaches those who need it instead of “vaccine nationalism”. He added that a country that makes them should not be the only one using it.

In October, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had warned against “vaccine nationalism” and urged countries to show solidarity at the time of rollout. Over 100 vaccines are being developed around the world to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. A vaccine developed with University of Oxford has been widely seen as one of the leading candidates against the infection.

Earlier in the day, India recorded 45,684 Covid-19 cases, pushing the tally in the country to 85,07,754, according to the health ministry’s data. The toll rose by 559 to 1,26,121 in 24 hours. There are 5,12,665 active cases and 78,68,968 recoveries. India has tested 11,77,36,791 samples so far, the Indian Council of Medical Research said.

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Coronavirus: India’s tally crosses 85 lakh, toll rises to 1,26,121

Delhi’s third ‘Covid wave’ to end soon: Satyendar Jain

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Sunday said the Capital seems to have hit the peak of its third “Covid wave”, and hinted that the number of new infections may go down soon.

“The first wave peaked on June 23 [3,947 cases], the second on September 17 [4,473 cases], and this is the third wave with more than 7,000 cases,” he said, according to NDTV. “We feel the number should come down after this.”

Delhi registered 6,953 new infections on Saturday after recording 7,178 cases on Friday. The city has reported over 6,000 daily cases for the last five days, and over 5,000 cases since October 29.

Jain also raised the matter of reservation of intensive care unit beds in private hospitals. “We have added 1,185 beds to the ones already available. Of these, 110 are ICU beds and 685 are in private hospitals...” he added. “We will now approach the Supreme Court to challenge Delhi High Court’s stay.”

The minister said that government hospitals have ICU beds but locals from other states prefer private facilities, leading to a crunch at some places.

On November 4, Jain said the government will move the Supreme Court against the High Court order on reservation of 80% beds in private hospitals.