Amid rising concerns over the new Delta Plus variant that was detected in several states across the country, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Wednesday, 23 June, said, “We have around 42 cases of Delta plus variant, so it is difficult to say whether it is causing anything that we should be worried about.”
However, he added, “This has come from the Delta lineage. This is Delta Plus, and the mutation (417), which has happened, has been known to really cause the virus to be more infectious,” he said in an interview to news agency ANI.
Expressing “a little bit of concern for us”, Guleria said, “It’s important we be proactive and take steps right now. If we see a surge in cases in any area, we test and see if it is the Delta Plus variant.” He also said that containment strategies should be devised to make sure the virus doesn’t spread to other areas.
According to the Health Ministry, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a network of 28 laboratories, found that the new virus has:
Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells
Leads to potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response that can fight the disease
Third Wave is Dependent on Us
On being asked about the third wave, Guleria said, “It is dependent on us. If we want to avoid the third wave, we need to follow three things.”
Aggressively follow COVID appropriate behaviour. “The virus is still there, it is mutating. No matter what be the variant, if we wear our masks, maintain physical distancing, wash hands, and avoid crowds, we will not allow any variant to spread,” he said.
Secondly, he added, “We need to have good surveillance. If in an area the COVID positivity rate is going up, hospital admissions are going up, then you must clampdown in that area so that you don’t allow the virus to spread.”
Thirdly, he emphasised on getting people vaccinated as fast and as soon as possible.
Vaccination for Children
Referring to the predicted higher risk to children in the third wave, Dr Guleria said, “Children usually have mild disease but we need to develop vaccines for children because if we have to control this pandemic everyone should be vaccinated.”
He added, “Already Pfizer has got FDA approval for vaccinating children.” Pfizer Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Albert Bourla said on Wednesday that the company is in the final stages to supply COVID vaccines to India.
Moreover, Guleria added, “Bharat Biotech and other companies are doing trials at a very fast pace as parents have come forward with their children for the trials,” ANI reported.
He stated that one is hopeful that the trial will be completed early and possibly with a follow up of about two to three months, India will have the data by September.
“Hopefully, by that time, approvals will be there so that by September to October, we’ll have vaccines from our country, which we can give to children,” Guleria asserted.
Talking about school students, Guleria said, “I personally feel that we should aggressively work on opening schools because it has really affected the young generation in terms of knowledge and especially the marginalised ones who can’t go for online classes, they are suffering.”
As the second wave subsides, several states have announced unlock guidelines, while experts warn of an impending wave.
(With inputs from ANI)
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