Countries need to formulate science-based policies to curb the spread of the virus and also find a balance so that the economy is kept open without having a devastating impact on people, WHO chief researcher Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday. However, she stressed that night curfews are not “not science-based” and have no evidence of effectiveness.
In a speech to CNBC-TV18, WHO chief researcher said: “We must be careful. We must be prepared but not panic. What we can expect to see in India is a wave of Omicron cases, I think It’s just starting now in some of the cities and is going to infect a lot of people. “
“Countries should look at their own data: people who die, what vaccine did they take, and how long ago did they have it, what population group should be targeted. This is how we learn about immunity. What we know now is that they neutralizing antibody responses decrease over a period of about 6 months, “she said.
However, T cell immunity persists and is very important. “We need clinical trials and not just laboratory-based trials. So what the WHO is really saying now is that our goals remain the same. We must save the most vulnerable. Give them boosters. But at the same time, we do not have enough evidence that the entire population needs boosters. That is why the WHO is calling for a science-based approach in a way so that we protect the most vulnerable but at the same time do not deprive those who need the vaccine, the top researcher said.
In light of India’s “precautionary doses” and combination of vaccines for boosters, she said it should be driven by the data.
“So far we have not included Corbevax on this mix and match or combination. There is data on Covavax that has been tested as a booster. Whether you take another shot of the same vaccine as a booster or give another, you get a good boost.What the WHO said is that which vaccine you choose as a booster dose really depends on various things, such as what you have used in that country, what supplies are available, what is acceptable to the public, what the cost is, and so on. Whatever it is, boosters provide good boost to the immune system as the memory cells are activated.In fact, some studies have shown that it may be preferable to use another vaccine as a booster.Considering the available data, I think countries can formulate their own policy based on their immune response and other factors such as cold storage, affordability.But I think India is in a good position in terms of the number of available just vaccines, “Swaminathan said.
She recommended against the closure of educational institutions, she said: “Politicians need to start balancing the science-based method of reducing transmission and its impact on people, while keeping the economy open as people have little enough. Schools should be the the last to be closed and the first to be opened because long-term school closures have a devastating effect on children and education. ”
“Entertainment venues are places where these viruses spread the most. It’s natural to impose some restrictions there. Now you really have to look seriously at well ventilation because it’s an airborne virus. When you’re in a closed environment, especially in a crowded place, “And people are not masked, viruses are spreading. But things like night-time bans, there is no science behind it. You have to take evidence-based measures. There is a whole list of public health measures,” she added.
Swaminathan reiterated the importance of masking, calling it the most effective tool in the fight against the pandemic.
“If 90% of the population wore a mask all the time, you would drastically reduce transmission. We need to focus on that. Keep in mind that Covid is not the only thing affecting our lives in terms of health. There are people who die of non-communicable diseases like cancer because they have not been able to take care of during the pandemic.The burden of mental health increases.We saw for the first time in many years that tuberculosis deaths increased last year because the discovery decreased.Therefore we need to make sure we have people for primary care, ”she said.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization’s chief researcher said on Thursday that despite the Omicron variant infecting both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, jabs appear to be protective.
“Omicron infection rates are high and occur in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. But it seems that vaccines are proving to be protective. The need for critical care does not seem to be increasing. That is a good sign. Several factors are causing “The vaccine is effective. One is the vaccine itself, the other is biological factors such as age – the older you are, the more vulnerable you are to the disease, and the third factor is diminishing immunity,” said the top researcher.