BENGALURU: The existing Covid-19 vaccines are effective for a minimum one year as per the available evidence and if more troubling variants don’t emerge, the protection may last for a couple of years, virologist Dr V Ravi said on Saturday. He is a member of the state Covid task force committee.
Vaccinated persons would get protection for two to three years if there are no further variants of concern after one year,” he said during a webinar, ‘Covid – 3rd Wave, Vaccination and Protection’, organised by the Karnataka Women Journalists’ Association.
urther research is required to determine the exact duration of vaccines’ effectiveness. Dr Ravi believes regular processing of a portion of Covid positive swab samples for genetic sequencing will help identify new coronavirus variants. The double mutant variants’ B. 1.617.1’ and ‘B.1.617.2’ have been found in 26 per cent of the 933 samples processed for genomic sequencing in Karnataka so far, he added.
Stressing that every previous pandemic had multiple waves, Dr Ravi said that a third wave was inevitable in the country and preparations must begin to tackle it. “Last year, many were in denial mode, saying India will not have a second wave because of ‘Indians’ immunity’. In reality, India is going through the second wave. We need to be cautious now and be prepared.
European countries are going through the third wave, whereas the US is witnessing the initial phase of the fourth wave,” he said.
According to Dr Ravi, infection waves generally occur three to five months apart and people who don’t get vaccinated in the next six months will be susceptible to Covid. Children will be a particularly vulnerable group in the coming wave. “In a country with 30 crore children, even if 1 per cent become sick, we do not have the required facilities to treat them,” he said, referring to the shortage of paediatric ICUs.
Highlighting the second wave pattern, he said that Maharashtra and Kerala faced it first, followed by Delhi, Gujarat and Karnataka. “Now we see a surge in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Different states peaked at different times. Even in a state, districts have surged at different times,” he said.
He emphasised the need for preventing large gatherings such as religious congregations and election and political rallies as part of efforts to reduce the severity of the third wave. “By avoiding these, no economic activities get affected. The need is to keep a close watch on the seven-day average Covid positivity rate and impose restrictions as and when there is a surge,” he added.
Responding to a query on planning pregnancy during the pandemic, Dr Ravi suggested that women should ideally complete vaccination before conceiving. “There are many who took one dose; they could not take the second one as they were pregnant. In current guidelines, vaccines are not yet advisable for pregnant women,” he said.