Import vaccines to ramp up vaccination against COVID-19, says Dr Gagandeep Kang

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Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor Virologist, C.M.C, Vellore. [Photo/ANI]
Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor Virologist, C.M.C, Vellore. [Photo/ANI]

By Shalini Bhardwaj

New Delhi [India], May 25 (ANI): India should get more COVID-19 vaccine doses through import but globally there is a vaccine shortage and the option with the government is to buy Russian or Chinese vaccines, says Dr Gagandeep Kang, a top virologist.

In an interview with ANI, Dr Kang, who is Professor of Microbiology at Christian Medical College, Vellore, said casualities are expected to decline in two weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases is stabilizing.

She said vaccination is slow at present because there is limited supply of vaccines.

"There should have been more doses available and those have not yet become available so the vaccination has slowed down. As companies ramp up their production, vaccination will also go up along with that," she said.

Speaking about the options the government has to ramp up vaccination, Dr Kang said import of vaccines was a solution but "globally there is a shortage of vaccines so the only vaccines available are the Russian and the Chinese ones".

"We have to decide which one are we willing to buy and get those in at least till the Indian companies start to ramp up production of their vaccines. I think the government should be doing everything that it can to make sure that more doses are available. In India, if the Indian companies couldn't ramp up, at least as a bridge, till the new companies start production of vaccines, we should import vaccines," she said.

Dr Kang's comments come at a time when several states are floating global tenders for supply of vaccines. Many states have shut down their vaccination centres because of the shortage of vaccines.

Answering a query, she said that the death count due to COVID-19 is a "lagging indicator" and numbers usually come down two-three weeks after the case numbers decline.

"One thing is important to understand that death (toll) is always a lagging indicator. It comes two-three weeks after the case numbers decline. Now the number of cases is stabilizing so we should expect the death toll also to stabalise reasonably and starts to taper off. If it does not, then that means there is an issue in some aspect of our reporting systems," Dr Kang said.

The virologist said that as far as black fungus is concerned, the biggest risk factor is the misuse of steroids besides factors such as diabetes and hygiene.

"It's related to the fact that we have many more cases and we seem to use steroids freely. We have a lot of people with diabetes, which is a risk factor for these cases of mucormycosis. There are also issues concerning environmental hygiene. Hygiene for those who are on oxygen, all of these matters need to be paid attention to. I think the biggest risk factor is diabetes and long use of steroids," said.

Asked if a third wave of pandemic will affect children, she said, "I don't think that is the case. I think children are already affected in the first and second waves. Children usually don't see very severe disease. Right now children we are seeing getting sick are a very small proportion of children who get infected and I think in the third wave it will be very similar. People are saying that more children can get affected because once more adults are vaccinated then the proportion of severe cases in children may increase. But it wouldn't be because children are not more likely to be infected, it will be because the number of cases in adults will come down hopefully with vaccination."

"US and Canada are vaccinating children with mRNA vaccines, We are expecting trial results by December in India also. After that we can vaccinate children in India also," she added. (ANI)

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