Covid-19 has ravaged many countries and claimed millions of lives over the past two years. Also in India, a pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus had affected many people between April and May 2021 and before that. The national serological survey carried out after the second wave showed a seropositivity rate of about 80%, including in children, which means that this population has developed antibodies against the contagion, either by exposure to the virus or by vaccination.
After the second wave, the world’s largest adult immunization program launched on January 16, 2021 by the Prime Minister accelerated coverage of the maximum eligible population in record time. Currently, more than 50% of the adult population is fully vaccinated and more than 85% of them have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. This indicates that a large part of the population has developed hybrid immunity by both natural infection and vaccination.
When a human body is exposed to a natural infection or is inoculated, it generates an immune response that helps fight infections in the future. This helps protect the body from pathogens, such as Covid-19, which can lead to serious illness or even death. Hybrid immunity is believed to provide better protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants.
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It has also been observed that people who received a dose of the vaccine after being infected developed a fairly good level of immunity against Covid-19 mutants, including Omicron. First reported in South Africa, the Omicron variant has now been found in more than 57 countries. It has around 30 mutations on its spike protein and is believed to be a few times more transmissible than the Delta variant, which caused the severe second wave in India and other countries. The Omicron variant has become a cause of great concern around the world, with many countries imposing restrictions and taking severe measures to contain its spread.
Although early scientific evidence suggests that Omicron causes a milder form of the disease with symptoms such as aches, sore throat, cough, and mild fever, it pays to be more careful and prepared.
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People around the world have also realized that timely precautions can prevent the spread of the virus to a great extent. We must therefore follow individual protection measures such as wearing masks, maintaining a safe distance, avoiding gatherings and regular hand disinfection. In addition, those who have not taken their first or second dose of the vaccine should now take it as a priority.
At the same time, by making air travel, domestic and international, as safe as possible through rigorous testing and checks at airports, contact tracing and quarantining positive and suspicious cases, we can prevent its spread. at an early stage. Strict surveillance will also help keep tabs on its outbreak in the country.
The pattern of the pandemic over the past two years has shown us that a global health crisis like this can be managed collectively. Many countries have found innovative ways to protect their populations. Germany, for example, does not allow gatherings in restaurants until one is fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19. Britain has stepped up masking and other restrictions. In November 2021, India also launched the Har Ghar Dastak campaign, which has had healthcare workers door-to-door to address various contextual concerns that may prevent people from getting vaccinated. The current campaign is receiving good support from the population eligible for the vaccine. Many have taken their planned vaccines, protecting their communities and society from the virus.
From our past experiences, we find that a virus dies its natural death, provided that we stay safe and be patient until it does. After all, Covid is a community disease.
(Dr Vikas Bhatia is Director, AIIMS, Bibinagar)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.