The pandemic is not yet over, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria reminded on Saturday as he spoke to NDTV about the link between the spike in fresh Covid cases in the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh amid tourist rush. He also shared that there’s not enough evidence yet on the need of booster jabs.
“Like we have been saying that the pandemic is not over and we need to prevent events that can turn out to be super spreader. We really need to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. If you have a super-spreader event, the effect usually is evident after three weeks or so because that’s the usual period. That’s why we are still concerned about non-essential travel,” he shared.
After a meeting with top officials of 10 states, the Union Health Ministry on Saturday urged in a statement that all non-essential travel should be avoided. In the last few weeks, visuals capturing the rush at tourist spots had sparked fresh worry about the spread of the virus, also prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send out an appeal to people.
India has set a goal of vaccinating 108 crore adults by the end of this year. However, several states are still reporting about the shortage of vaccines, including Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Will the country face a hurdle in achieving the goal? On this, Dr Guleria said, ” “I don’t think it will have a big impact. Also other doses from other giants like Zydus are also expected soon. In coming weeks and months, we will be able to meet out targets. But I would just encourage people to get vaccinated. Vaccine is the only way we can come out of this pandemic.”
While many experts are also talking about booster doses to check the spread of virus, Dr Guleria said there is not enough data about booster jabs yet. “Firstly, there is not evidence yet that we need to have a booster jab.”
“Secondly, it’s unfair that when a large number of people have not got their first dose, for instance in Africa, that people are taking the third jab, with very little evidence. No one is safe till everyone is safe. If new variants are detected in one part of the world, they might spread to other parts. So we need to make sure that the pace of vaccination is satisfactory in most parts of the world,” he further underlined.
He also used the example of China which is witnessing the worst outbreak after Wuhan.