Covid-19 vaccine: ‘Unless Coronavirus changes a lot, we can manage,’ says vaccine expert Dr Gagandeep Kang

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“It’s feasible that we might not need new vaccine shots unless the virus changes a lot. But I don’t think that it is going to be an annual shot, based on what we currently know,” she said.“It’s feasible that we might not need new vaccine shots unless the virus changes a lot. But I don’t think that it is going to be an annual shot, based on what we currently know,” she said.Vaccine candidates have exceeded expectations of efficacy and booster shots to remedy shortlived vaccine-derived immunity may not be needed, Dr Gagandeep Kang, clinical scientist, vaccine expert and professor at the department of gastrointestinal sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore, told FE.

“It’s feasible that we might not need new vaccine shots unless the virus changes a lot. But I don’t think that it is going to be an annual shot, based on what we currently know,” she said.

Kang is clear that the entire populace needs to be inoculated.

“The virus will not magically stop circulating the minute you get 60% of the population infected or vaccinated. A reduction in transmission is going to come from vaccinating young people. It’s not going to come from vaccinating the elderly,” she said.

Till the time the public health programme has to tackle the pandemic, the government must give indemnity to vaccine-makers and others in the vaccine supply-chain, Kang said, adding some level of indemnification was necessary to have access to the vaccines.

She stressed the need to involve the private sector in the inoculation process, pointing out it was drastically more complicated than anything attempted in the past. “My worry is we’re not involving the private sector at all, at least, I’m not hearing about it,” she said. Also, the government must appoint independent monitoring panels for the roll out, she explained.

Kang believes India needs more granular sero-surveys to determine how SARS CoV-2 is spreading. “We only know the number of tests done and tests that were positive. Trying to make sense of numbers can only happen with sero-survey information. It would be very valuable if we could understand why the tests were done, were they done to screen contacts or to make a diagnoses,” she observed.

However, she believes vaccines won’t lead to eradication of the virus. “It would take humongous efforts for us to think about being able to eradicate this virus.

I don’t think we are ready for that strategy right now. It is potentially feasible; some countries have shown us that they can do it for certain kinds of settings. But, it also would require an incredible amount of testing and isolation,” Kang observed.

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