Target 60 cr inoculations by July to arrest surge: Genomics expert

Target 60 cr inoculations by July to arrest surge: Genomics expert

Rakesh Kumar Mishra, CSIR scientist

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 4

Top genomics expert has said the country must inoculate nearly 60 crore people by July to beat the pandemic lest the virus mutates and acquires lethal virulence.

In an interview with The Tribune, Rakesh Kumar Mishra, Director, CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, a key institution in the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics established to study variants, said Punjab needed to pull up its socks as it bore the highest burden of UK variants. Nearly 76 per cent of all UK variants detected in India are in Punjab.

“The UK strain is known to be extremely virulent. But protection measures are the same. Wearing of masks will determine whether people will defeat the virus or end up in hospitals. It is time to start treating people who do not wear masks as anti-social. Masks are that crucial to Covid management,” Mishra said, calling for a cultural movement to promote use of masks.

For high Covid burden states like Punjab, the genomics expert advised: “Since most cases are asymptomatic, testing is the key. States witnessing steep surge must escalate tests on war footing and isolate the infected. Else we will hardly have health infrastructure to handle patient rush after few days or so.”

Ruling out link between variants and the current surge, Mishra said: “We let our guard down. People gave up masks, social distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene. The virus just needs an unprotected meeting between two people to spread.”

He said the second wave was highly infectious and had the capacity to wreck the health system. “India must vaccinate 50-60 crore people by July. That would give us a fair level of immunity against the virus,” said Mishra. The CSIR scientist noted that India had nearly 40,000 vaccination centres and each had been directed to inoculate 100 persons a day. “We can achieve half a crore vaccinations per day and 60 crore by July. Speedy inoculations will address the pandemic in time. Delay could allow the virus to acquire new and hard to address mutations,” he said.

Drive in full steam

  • 7.59 cr: Doses given since January 16
  • 89.83 lakh: Health workers got first dose
  • 53.20 lakh: Received second dose
  • 96.86 lakh: Frontline workers got 1st dose
  • 40.97 lakh: Received second dose
  • 4.70 cr: 45 plus people with first dose
  • 8.23 lakh: 45 plus with second dose

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