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Booster doses, Covid-appropriate behaviour key to check virus spread, says expert

The country is in a “strong position” with the Covid-19 situation in view of high vaccine coverage, though the present surge in cases in some states indicate that the virus is still around, an expert has said. Administering booster doses and following Covid-appropriate behaviour are important to not let the virus have a free run, said Rakesh Mishra, former director of city-based CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

The possible problem that may occur, though the chances are less, is the emergence of a new variant which is not only infectious but also clinically more harmful, Mishra, currently Director of Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) in Bengaluru, told PTI.

Though there has been a rise in cases in recent weeks, hospital admissions have been low and many of those who needed medical attention had other health issues, including co-morbidities, he said.

The very high vaccine coverage and immunity induced by previous infections helped the cause, he said. However, the increase in fresh cases shows that the virus is very much around.

“That’s why we should be careful to avoid letting the virus get more chances,” he said. Effective vaccination and monitoring for emergence of any new variants are key, he said.

The variants which are currently in circulation in the country have not been very harmful, he said. It helps if the present surge in Covid-19 cases is taken as a warning sign and booster shots are taken, besides following Covid-appropriate behaviour, he said.

The virus is not going to go away and it is likely to reach an endemic stage after some time as people all over the world may have got some immunity by then, he said. The country is very far ahead and is second to none in terms of vaccine protection, he said.

A “nasty variant” can emerge in countries where vaccination coverage is low as the virus has easy access to a host there, Mishra said.

Covid-appropriate behaviour coupled with vaccination would effectively check the virus. “The more people it infects, the more probability of a new variant coming. Each time the virus infects someone, it will generally create a new variant and some of them may become problematic. So, if you don’t allow it, then chances are less,” he said.

If the virus does not get more chances, the emergence of a new variant gets delayed or may not happen at all and the virus would become endemic, he said. He stressed on testing and genomic surveillance to detect rise in cases and also emergence of any new problematic variant.

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