Herd immunity ‘very difficult’ to achieve: says AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria; not wearing masks and no social distancing has taken its toll as Covid -19 cases surge, mild infection tends to have fewer antibodies production & why herd immunity is not enough?

The nation was in the midst of euphoria as the cases of Covid -19 seemed to have decreased in the country even as the western countries continue to be under the onslaught of this deadly virus and its mutations as several nations imposed lockdown.

However, the tide seems to be turning as the country is now reporting fresh cases of Covid -19, with 14,199 new Covid -19 cases and 83 more deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.
The recent spate in Covid -19 cases can only be attributed to the two points – not wearing masks and not following social distancing protocols.

Even as the lockdown was lifted and people returned to their daily activities, the importance of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and adequate measures to avoid the virus seems to have taken a back seat.

In the ordinary course of daily activities, people can be seen without wearing masks or wearing a mask but have forgotten this vital factor that the mask is to cover the nose and the mouth.
Many can be seen with a mask for sure but not around the nose but hanging on the mouth; this glaring act is not sufficient to protect the person or those around.
The same is the case with social distancing; as daily activities take the front seat, social distancing norms have been literally “forgotten,” as people continue to queue around each other and have entirely forgotten that we are still amid a pandemic.

The one-state showing maximum surge in cases is Maharashtra’s, closely followed by Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.
With the surge in cases, India’s present caseload now consists of 1.30 percent of India’s total positive cases. The government has now said that some states are “seeing an upsurge in daily new cases.”

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Maharashtra and the other four states see an upsurge in cases.

As of Friday, Maharashtra has accounted for the highest number of daily coronavirus cases in India. In the past 24 hours, 6112 daily new cases were reported from the state. This has led to a total number of 1305 buildings sealed in Mumbai; 71,838 households reside in these sealed buildings.

Pune is also equally affected by the surge in coronavirus cases, with as many as 1176 new Covid -19 cases and 6 deaths in the last 24 hours on Sunday.

The death toll in Pune due to Covid -19 is a staggering 9,183 as of Sunday, while the overall positive cases stand at 3,98,607, including 7,355 active cases.

The surge in cases has led to the District administration in Pune city to close all educational institutions to curb the sudden rise in Covid -19 cases; the city has also imposed a night curfew from 11 pm to 6 am to disallow public movement except for those involved in essential services.

Meanwhile, in a video address, CM Thackery said, “Do you want a lockdown? The next eight days will decide. Maharashtra has reported around 7000 Covid cases today. If the Covid -19 situation deteriorates, then we have to impose lockdown.”

He also stressed on the fact that people were not serious and showing irresponsibility by not wearing masks and not adhering to the guidelines of social distancing. He further illustrated that while lockdown is not a solution to Covid -19, but imposing a lockdown is the only option to break the cycle of the virus.

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Also, a ban has been imposed on all religious activities and gatherings in the state.

Herd immunity ‘very difficult’ to achieve: AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria

AIIMS Director on Sunday said that herd immunity is “very difficult” to achieve, and one should not think of it in practical terms in India, especially in the times of “variant strains” of Covid -19.
He also stated that the variant strains and varying immunity with times could lead to a chance where people may have reinfection or get the infection again.

An important point to remember here is that a large number of people have had mild infections, and according to research, people who have mild infections tend to have less antibody production; their antibodies tend to wane over a period of time.

India had until quite recently talking of ‘herd immunity’; however that seems to have busted now as new varients of Covid -19 are now emerging.
Hence herd immunity will be extremely difficult to achieve because the variant strains and varying immunity with times can lead to a chance where people may have reinfection or get an infection again.

What is Herd Immunity?

Herd immunity implies that in a set of people in a community after they have been affected by the virus, a lot of them become immune to the virus on account of antibodies developed in response to it. Hence such people become a protective layer between the infected person and the unaffected people, thereby breaking the chain of viral transmission.
According to experts, herd immunity is said to have been developed in a population segment if at least 50 -60 percent of these are found to have the presence of antibodies in a seroprevalence survey.

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Why Herd Immunity is not enough, even if a population develops herd immunity?

Taking the example of Brazil, which had claimed to have herd immunity with as much as 70 percent of the population being protected because of the past infections, is struggling in the present because of the new Brazilian variant and waning immunity leading to a large number of people getting infected again.
This has led to a critical situation with a large number of resurgences in cases.

Hence, vaccination’s importance is critical as it would give more robust immunity lasting for a more extended period.
The vaccinations, too, will have to change with the emergence of new variants over time, but the important aspect is that the vaccinations will lead to a stronger immunity in the body hence providing a stronger chance for the body to fight the virus.

Hence, it can only be said that personal and individual precautions against the virus are an essential factor that can help in not contracting the virus in the first place.

While the population must resume and continue with daily activities, it is equally important to understand the fact that the fundamental factor of evading the virus is an individual responsibility.
So mask up, follow the social distancing norms and be safe.


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