The first WHO scientist on vaccines from India and the third potential wave


India is better prepared to prevent the new Covid-19 waves from causing disasters in the country, according to Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization.

The South Asian nation suffered a second devastating wave between February and early May, during which cases of daily infections and mortality rates rose at an alarming rate, pushing the health care system to the brink.

Since then, homes have dropped and are currently averaging about 30,000 to 40,000 per day. The pace of vaccination has also escalated sharply.

Appearing on CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” Wednesday, Swaminathan said the world has learned enough about the coronavirus to understand which of the weaknesses in the human body it exploits, and what public health tools and measures are effective in addressing it. .

“I think we are much better armed now in India, but also in other countries, to prevent any catastrophic wave from happening,” he said.

Waiting for a third wave

India expects a third wave of infections to hit some years. But the consensus among many public health experts is that its impact is likely to be less severe than the first two waves.

“I think preparations at the health system level have really increased, especially in terms of oxygen and critical care facilities,” Swaminathan said.

“What is also needed is to strengthen the health workforce so it is not enough to have only the equipment and materials and drugs. We also need trained nurses, doctors, anesthetists, critical care technicians and others,” he said. he added.

At this rate, it should be possible to achieve that goal by almost all vaccinated adults in (India). It’s a huge population.

Soumya Swaminathan

Chief Scientist, WHO

Swaminathan added that a combination of vaccination and other public health measures – such as wearing masks, especially indoors, avoiding large meetings, and ensuring there are high levels of testing – could give early warnings that could prevent another outbreak. explosive.

During the second wave, Indian hospitals initially struggled with the scarcity of beds and a limited supply of oxygen and medicine, overwhelming medical professionals.

Vaccination targets of India

People are waiting in line to receive the vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside a shopping center in Mumbai, India, on August 11, 2021.

Francis Mascarenhas | Reuters

Swaminathan noted that in recent weeks, the pace of vaccination in India has increased.

“At this rate, it should be possible to achieve this goal of almost all adults who are vaccinated in the country. It has a huge population – 700 million doses already administered,” he said. “There’s still a long way to go, but if this pace continues, if producers’ supply continues, then … I think it should be possible to achieve that goal.”

Government data have shown that India has administered on average about 7.5 million doses per day since September 1st.

While vaccination remains voluntary, more than 50,000 state-run facilities are giving away gift shots. People can also pay to get them in more than 2,800 private centers.

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