With No Vaccine, 'Herd Immunity' is Our Only Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus: Senior Scientist

Kolkata: Renowned Immunologist and Cell Biologist Dipyaman Ganguly on Thursday said that one of the only hopes in defeating the novel coronavirus is by developing ‘herd immunity,’

Speaking to News18, Ganguly said, “This coronavirus is not going anywhere. Viruses don’t go anywhere. They may become weak but its strand remains. The virus will keep infecting people until a large population develops immunity against it.”

He said that immunity could only be achieved through a vaccine or by getting infected by the virus. “Since developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is not an easy task and it is unlikely that we will get one soon, the only hope that remains is that of herd immunity and it is bound to happen.”

Explaining the idea of herd immunity further, he said, “The virus is going infect a large number of populations in India. When a large number of people get infected, their bodies will develop natural immunity. They will stop the virus from spreading further by breaking the chain of infections transmitted from one person to another."

Ganguly, who is the Principal Scientist and Swarnajayanthi Fellow at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) is currently working on Randomised Control Trial (RCT) using convalescent plasma collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

“Since I am closely monitoring the situation, I am sure that we are moving towards herd immunity,” he added.

Studying infection trends in India, he said most of the coronavirus cases would be asymptomatic. Patients would recover through natural immunity and vitamin boosting medication suggested by the doctors. However, those with existing health conditions can develop severe complications as the virus aggravates symptoms.

On the likelihood of the virus reappearing in the body of a cured patient, he said there is no conclusive evidence to suggest such claims. “While there are some reports that state that the virus reappears including one from South Korea, it is important to notice that such data can be misleading as most of the participants had not completely cured of the virus infection. Till date, there is no suggestive evidence that indicates reappearance of the virus,” he said.

Dipyaman Ganguly is a recipient of National Bioscience Award for Career Development. Considered as one of the highest science awards in India, Ganguly was honoured for his contributions to the field of biosciences in 2017-18.