COVID crisis far from over: CSIR chief

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Director General, Shekhar C. Mande has warned that the COVID-19 crisis is far from being over and that allowing a ‘third wave’ by lowering our guard could have serious consequences. He was speaking on ‘Ïndia’s response to COVID-19 from S & T perspective’ at the virtual “National Science Day Lectures,”organised by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology here on Sunday.

Dr. Mande said that India was nowhere near achieving herd immunity and as such people should continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing and hand hygiene to prevent getting infected by SARS CoV-2. Allowing complacency to set in could be dangerous as a third wave can precipitate a far more challenging situation than what has been seen

RGCB Director Chandrabhas Narayana moderated the digital lectures.

Dr Mande expressed the hope that the COVID-19 vaccines would be effective against virus variants. The evidence “is not very strong” that the vaccines would not work against the mutated virus. “We would like to believe that the vaccines are effective against the variants as the vaccines worked against the entire virus while the mutations took place on just a part of the virus,” he explained.

The number of new COVID-19 cases had come down not because of herd immunity, but because of other reasons, including wearing of masks and people remaining outdoors during the winter. The fact that the virus remained suspended in the air in closed areas and it lost its potency in open areas helped a great deal in controlling the spread during the winter, he said. For the same reason, the disease went out of control in the West where people remained indoors during the winter, he added.

Dr. Mande said that continued collaboration across scientific institutions was necessary to come out of the current situation and to ward off catastrophic situations arising from climate change

Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman of Axilor Ventures, and Jayant Sahasrabudhe, National Organising Secretary of Vijnana Bharati, also spoke.

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