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New Delhi: Amid the concerns over rising cases of Covid in several countries espe- cially neighbouring China, a top scientist from Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, Bengaluru on Friday said that the Covid subvariant is less likely to trouble India due to hybrid immunity among the populace while adding that people must be careful since the only tool the virus has for an outbreak is mutation. Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, Tata Institute for Genetics and Society said, “They are all sub-variants of Omicron and it is powerful in terms of infectivity. That is how it keeps acquiring newer surprises once in a while. We things and keeps giving us should be more careful because the only tool this virus has is mutations. Now China is the playground for this virus for the next several months. It means the virus will have a good chance to try out new experiments and many variants will emerge from there.” Dr Mishra further warned about the new variant and emphasised on ge nomic surveillance.

He said people should not put down their guards and adhere to Covid protocols like wearing a mask and social distancing. Dr Mishra highlighted that India is in good condition to deal with the situation because of the vaccination coverage and hybrid immunity. He said, “We are in very good condition and actually there is nothing to worry about or panic about at this moment. Based on all the earlier development of the disease, we are in a very advanced stage compared to them. We have gone through many of these which for example, China is going thro- ugh now.” “If I explain the situation in China, they follo- wed the zero Covid policy that did not allow the disease to spread. So it is like returning to the disease’s beginning in China. China has not phased any wave, which means their whole populace is naive. Other countries like Australia and New Zealand also followed strict measures like quarantined and lockdowns. But they followed up with a very strong vaccination programme and other prepared ness, which China failed,” Dr Mishra added. In China, he further said extensive vaccination was not followed and the vaccine also seemed to be not that effective. “And unfortunately, as per the data that is coming in, the senior citizens there are not vaccinated. Millions are unvaccinated or have got only one dose. It means they are vulnerable to the disease. It is like the case with the Omicron variant India went through almost a year back,” he said.

‘We needn’t ban int’ flights or lock down

New Delhi: India’s present Covid scenario does not warrant restricting international flights or imposing a lockdown, but there is a need for strengthened surveillance and vigilance in view of the rise in cases in some countries, experts have said.

They also said that a fresh outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalisation is unlikely as people in India have the advantage of hy brid immunity’ i.e. natural immunity due to infection re inforced by vaccination.

“Overall, there is no increase in Covid caseload and India currently is in a comfortable situation. Under present circumstances, there is no need to restrict international flights or impose a lockdown,” Dr Randeep Guleria, a former AIIMS director, told PTI on Friday.

Past experiences show that banning flights is not effective in halting the transmission of infection, he said. “Moreover, data suggests that the Omicron sub-variant BF7, which is driving the surge in China, has already been found in our country.”

Asked whether a lockdown could be needed in th coming days, Dr Gulerisaid, “A fresh outbreak of se vere Covid cases and hospi talisation is unlikely as the Indian population already has hybrid immunity because of a very good vaccination coverage and natural infection.”

“Considering the current situation and a good degree of hybrid immunity in the population, there does not seem to be a need for a lockdown,” Dr Guleria said.

Dr Neeraj Gupta, a professor in the Department of Pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, said India needs to exercise caution given the surge of COVID-19 cases in China and some other countries but a “lockdown-like situation is not envisaged in near future given the current India scenario”.

“Covid-appropriate behaviour needs to be reinforced since complacency has crept in because of very low number of Covid positive cases. We cannot be slack given the global scenario since the pandemic is still not over,” he said.

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